Gate placement is a concern after a fiery Daytona crash injured more than 28 fans and took 12 drivers out of the race.
The gate placement became a concern after the crash, in which rookie Kyle Larson’s car broke apart when it hit the track’s catch fence.
The catch fence is in place to prevent the race cars or race car parts from hitting the audience. But Larson’s car hit where a gate connected the grandstands with the track.
Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s Senior Vice President or Racing Operations, stated on Saturday:
“I think because of where it came through and having pieces that did get through and it being a gate area, that’s really going to be the focus for us to look at.”
O’Donnell explained that NASCAR typically leaves fencing up to the individual tracks on the circuit, though they will consider being more involved.
This is not the first time an accident has caused the organization to re-think the safety features of its tracks. SAFER barriers were installed in the corners and elsewhere on tracks a year after Dale Earnhardt lost his life hitting a wall at the end of the Daytona 500.
ABC Local notes that O’Donnell explained that the gate Kyle Larson hit was locked, but pieces still went through the fence. The safety elements of Larson’s car appeared to work, but the section the engine is tethered to sheared off. Those pieces were sent into the stands.
Two of the injured fans are still at the hospital, but everyone else has been released. O’Donnell added:
“We’re certainly going to look at fencing in general, but I think that particular area, that it was a gate, did impact it. We know the gate was locked, but does that provide as much stability as the rest of the fencing we believed it did? We’ve now got to look at that impact.”
Kyle Larson’s car was left at Daytona so that track officials can use it in their investigation into what happened with the fencing at the track. The car will then be taken to NASCAR’s research and development center in Charlotte, North Carolina. It will be put back together so that NASCAR can determine what parts of the car came off and when.