The Coke Zero 400 took a scary twist Sunday night when Austin Dillon's #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevy flipped and made contact with Daytona's catch fence. In my 13 years of watching NASCAR racing Dillon's wreck was one of the craziest I have ever witnessed. I have never seen a car flip in such a manner as Dillon's did. To take off in that kind of angle reminds me more of open wheel racing. I have also never seen a car stop as quickly as it did when the #3 hit the catch fence. The car literally went from 190 to 30 mph or slower in just seconds. The wreck was scary for sure, but it did prove that NASCAR has finally reached a level of safety they should feel comfortable with.
Of course danger will always be an issue in racing. Cars going 200 mph are danger on wheels, nothing will ever stop that. NASCAR has been on a tear the last 10 years to solve the safety issue. From the car of tomorrow, to the car of today, every change has been made to help with the safety of the drivers and fans. Now, I honestly think the grass issue that came up this weekend is stupid to be honest. We can't just eliminate grass because of one accident. Safety will never be eliminated, and race tracks have always had grass, so lets not get too serious about this one.
When the #3 car went into the fence Monday morning and Austin was able to walk away from the crash, I knew that the right changes had been made. NASCAR should be proud of their efforts on two different levels. One, the driver walked away with no problems. Austin will probably be sore for a few days but that is nothing compared to what could have been. If that exact wreck were to have taken place 10 years ago, I feel as though NASCAR would have had to announce the second driver that had passed in the #3 car. Luckily I was confident Dillon would walk away, and he did.
Second, NASCAR should be happy with the safety improvements to the catch fence at Daytona. A handful of fans did suffer minor injuries, but the fact that a 3500 pound racecar hit the catch fence at 290 mph and stayed in the race track is amazing. The angle of the impact could have led to a devastating accident. Fans lives could have been in jeopardy, but luckily everything worked as it was designed. The catch fence did tear apart, but for the most part kept everyone safe in the stands.
By saying all of this I want to commend NASCAR but also state that I think NASCAR needs to relax on safety for now, at least in the aspect of the cars. I feel as though some efforts need to be taken at the tracks, but the car is set and ready to go. Soft walls need to be installed at 100% of racetracks, at all locations, more asphalt needs to be laid down at certain tracks, and fences need to have some extra support for fans. I believe NASCAR needs to settle down with slowing down cars, and ruining great racing. At this point, let the drivers race. Safety will always need to be monitored, but the cars are where they need to be at this point in time. I think NASCAR should take a step back and just be proud of what they have accomplished.
Overall, the drivers are happy, the fans are happy, and everything is working as it should. NASCAR has finally reached a level of safety that most support. I honestly feel as if the sport is safer than every before, and that not much more can be done to the racecars to make them safer. Tracks made need to be modified a little more, but stock car racing has never been safer at the national level. The terrifying crash Monday morning makes me even more confident that NASCAR will not be announcing any driver deaths for the near future. Safety is finally at a manageable level for one of the most dangerous sports in the world.
Here's the link for those who have not seen the crash yet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84hz9w2GlV4
Well, there you have it! Thanks for reading, and share your thoughts!!