Horrific crash puts safety in spotlight for NASCAR

Kyle Busch hit another wall at Daytona global Speedway.

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(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack).

Evernham said he applauds Chitwood for making significant track safety improvements after other crashes.

Dillon’s Chevrolet careened at about 320km/h into a seven-metre high catchfence along the frontstretch of Daytona worldwide Speedway early Monday morning as the rain-delayed Coke Zero 400 ended. His auto went airborne, rode the fence and ripped into the catch fence before coming back on the racetrack.

“So, I’m proud of the finish but didn’t want to be crossing the line in the air by no means”, Dillon deadpanned.

“Oh my God, that looked terrible”, he yelled into his radio. He followed with a string of expletives as he tried to comprehend the frightening accident. So did drivers. As Dillon emerged from that split-second insanity and waved his arms to the fans, it signaled a brilliant stroke of luck and proactive safety elements for the driver and the sport.

Austin Dillon was a fortunate son after his Chevy went flying in the night on the last lap of the Coke Zero 400. “It makes for more excitement but you’re always concerned when a guy crashes that bad”, said Russel Cordray as he was buying tickets for the Brickyard. “I didn’t care about anything except for just figuring out who was OK. I didn’t care about anything except figuring out who was OK”, Earnhardt said. “The racing doesn’t matter anymore”. Check out the grouping before this crash on YouTube and then remember that the average speed of the race victor – which, ironically, was Dale Earnhardt Jr. – was almost 135 miles per hour, and that the slightest bump can cause a chain reaction.

On the final lap, Austin Dillon’s number three vehicle flying into the front stretch catch-fence, scattering parts of the vehicle into the stands.

Altogether, 13 people sustained an injury, though only four were treated by medics at the track and eight declined treatment, Daytona president Joie Chitwood said.

Dillon said he expects to be back at the track this weekend. As the smoke cleared, and the cars all came to a stop, things looked grim for Dillon, as the #3 was on its roof, shredded to pieces. “So everybody’s working in the right direction to make these things safe”.

Debris from the wreck sprayed everywhere through the fence, so some fans sitting in the area were treated for injuries, though none were seriously injured.

Second-placed Jimmie Johnson said he was shocked that Dillon survived. I saw everything in the mirror pretty clearly …

The wreck was also the main focus at the end of a day that began early Sunday but quickly fell off schedule because of weather.

“Any time you put cars on the track going that fast, somebody is going to get airborne”.

“At this point, we can not ban anything and we can not change our policy”, he told The Associated Press (AP) on Tuesday, five days before the race.

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Earnhardt stayed ahead of three other multi-car accidents, the kind that mark restrictor-plate races at superspeedways like Daytona and Talladega (Ala.).

Daytona Beach Fla. NASCAR and the speedway offered to replace any flag a race brings to the track with an American flag. (AP