Dover International Speedway still has work to do
Like Christopher Walken wanted more cowbell on “Saturday Night Live” back in 2000, I think Dover (Del.) International Speedway should’ve had more SAFER barrier over the recent AAA 400 Drive for Autistm NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekend that also included events for the Camping World Truck and Xfinity series.
When a Friday practice crash involving Danica Patrick, Tony Stewart and Jamie McMurray brought attention to the fact that not all the outside retaining wall at Dover provides SAFER protection, I couldn’t help but wonder, whatever happened to covering all walls at all NASCAR-sanctioned track with SAFER barrier? Maybe that exact announcement was never made. Maybe I got confused by the driver outcry last year that all walls should feature SAFER barrier. I am blonde, and like that age-old stereotype, I admit I can sometime be easily confused, but I digress. Maybe it was just hopeful thinking. I don’t know.
By the way, the outside frontstretch wall also was hit at least a couple of so times during racing action throughout the weekend.
I remember when SAFER barriers were first installed around 2001-2002, that there was some reasoning supporting a lack of SAFER barriers on some concrete wall surfaces that said that some areas of retaining wall wasn’t conducive to SAFER barrier because of track banking, angle where the wall met the track, yada, yada, yada.
I guess we believed that back then, but from conversations and debates I’ve heard the last couple of years, that theory, or excuse is out the window, isn’t it? I’ve gotten the impression, as of late, that SAFER barrier isn’t only possible, but advisable all the way around the race track, both inside and out? Well, maybe the pit wall is an exception, because can you imagine crew guys trying to jump over all of that? But with pit road speed, I can accept that.
But what about everywhere else? You know, like the outside retaining wall on the Dover frontstretch? You know, where Stewart and McMurray hit on Friday?
Dover featured more SAFER barrier than in the past, specifically 479 additional, feet, but I don’t think they should’ve stopped there.
“When we looked at SAFER barriers all being in place for this racing season, the plan had always been at both Dover and Indianapolis on the front stretch wall to not have ethat covered,” NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Monday. “There was some logistics and reasoning behind that in terms of really narrowing the frontstretch lane. SAFER barriers potentially were going to dump cars back out onto the frontstretch and have a potential T-bone of a driver. And then, there were challenges going into turn one.”
Isn’t that — and by that, I mean the potential for cars to hit a SAFER barrier, bounce back down the track and potentially get T-boned — a risk anywhere? Maybe I’m missing something. After all, I’m not expert and would never claim to be in this kind of area. But would cars not bounce off a SAFER barrier on the frontstretch at Dover the same way it would in other areas on other race tracks?
And as far as narrowing the frontstretch goes, at least some cars venture up the race track near the wall — some drivers/cars more than others — it seems any given weekend. Why would this be more of an issue at Dover than about anywhere else.
What am I missing here?
“But, obviously, after we went through this weekend, we’ve got to look at what tweaks we can make, be able to install those and, maybe, look at how the frontstretch could work those in. . . . Obviously, after what happened all throughout the weekend, that’s something we’ve got to address, and we’ll do that, and we’re confident that the track will work with us, as well,” O’Donnell said.
Gee, you think?
I hope after looking at the situation, there will be more SAFER barrier around Dover when the circuit heads back to the track later this year, next season at the latest.
Just my two cents. Just take them for what they’re worth — probably about two cents.