Saturday, March 02, 2013

O'Donnell Says Gate Is Focus Of Daytona Crash Probe

NASCAR's Steve O'Donnell
NASCAR Senior Vice President for Racing Operations Steve O'Donnell said today that the sanctioning body has asked a wide array of specialists to analyze last weekend’s Nationwide Series crash that critically injured two grandstand spectators and left a number of others with less severe injuries.

"Our focus is going to be if the elements in the car did their job,” said O’Donnell, “(and) what happened once that car impacted the fence. We certainly will look at the fencing in general, but because of where it hit and the pieces (that went) through, the gate is the particular area of our focus.”
If weaknesses are found in the area of Daytona’s spectator crossover gate, O’Donnell said changes will be made before the circuit’s next restrictor plate race at Talladega Superspeedway on May 5.
“Does (the gate) supply as much support as the rest of the fencing? We believe it did,” said O’Donnell. “But we have to look at it, based on the impact.
Larson (32) emerged uninjured
"We've had multiple meetings this week," he said. "Superspeedway racing at Daytona and Talladega is the first concentration for us. We have a race coming up in May at Talladega, so anything we can learn to apply at Talladega, we will do that."

O’Donnell confirmed that NASCAR has retained fencing experts and engineers from Indianapolis Motor Speedway to aid in the investigation, as well as Dr. Dean Sicking, creator of the SAFER barrier. Rookie Kyle Larson's shattered race car will also be reconstructed and examined in an effort to determine whether improper fabrication or materials played a role in the crashes outcome.

O'Donnell said tethers designed to secure wheel/tire assemblies to the chassis did their job, but broke free after chassis and bolt-on components were compromised in the crash.
"The tethers did not break," he stressed. "But the part of the car it was tethered to sheared off. That's something we have to look at."
O’Donnell said it is "far too early to speculate” on causes for the crash, or what changes might be made as a result of NASCAR’s investigation. "We have to do the investigation and do it right,” he said. “There are a number of suggestions out there, and we will look at all of them.
"We have to take the time to reconstruct the car, the fence and the accident. Then we can say, 'Here's what we know happened and how can we prevent that, moving forward.'"
Photos: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images, Reuters


  1. One thing I haven't heard anyone mention is the Cup series Gen 6 cars. When Carl Edwards wrecked in the 125, his hood bowed up, and as his car spun, the hood flailed back and forth until it disintegrated.
    The tether was visible during the wreck, and it held on to the hood until is shredded to pieces. Not much good having a tether with nothing left to hold on to.
    My concern with the carbon fiber hoods and decks is shrapnel. I know you hate living in the land of "if". However, if, the Nationwide series cars were constructed with carbon fiber, the scope and magnitude of the injuries suffered would have increased dramatically. Instead of a wadded up hood coming off Larson's car, there would have been razor sharp fragments of carbon fiber flying through that crowd.
    If that had been a Cup wreck, it would have been ugly.
    In my land of "if", its not a matter of "if" at all. Its a matter of when. When a Cup car goes airborne into a fence, I will be blissfully safe in the upper levels of the stands.
    F1 cars are completely constructed of carbon fiber, and the separation of the fans from the track keeps them safe.
    Either scrap the CF body parts, or push everyone back... nope, not yet, a little more, keep going... up a few more rows...
    I'll continue this comment WHEN the first carbon fiber fan casualty catches NASCAR by surprise.

    1. They have had more than enough of these wrecks to see that CF isn't particularly the problem. As for pushing the fans back, it didn't do anyone any good before.

    2. They haven't had any wrecks with a car flying into the fence with a CF hood and deck. Unless I missed something. Try catching a small broken piece of carbon fiber that is coming at you around 100 mph. Let me know how that goes.

  2. I'm surprised it took this long for people to see the crossover gate was the issue - if he'd hit a part of fencing or the gate had held, this would never have been as bad as it was. Solving this particular issue is really a simple case of strengthening the fencing and particularly the crossover gates.

    1. Shame on you, Monkeesfan. You've had this knowledge all along, but never said a word until after those people were injured last weekend? What's WRONG with you? Why didn't you chime-in with your knowledge of crossover gates during the offseason, so something could have been done before the incident last Saturday?

    2. I meant in terms of the days immediately after the crash - all the talk was about the fencing in general.