NASCAR adds rule on exiting cars after crashes

Action prompted after Stewart involved in death of dirt track driver
Associated Press
Aug 16, 2014

 

NASCAR added a rule Friday barring its drivers from approaching the track or moving cars after accidents, less than a week after driver Kevin Ward Jr. was struck and killed during a dirt-track race in New York.

If a car is involved in an accident and can no longer keep going — and no extenuating circumstances exist such as smoke in the cockpit or fire — the driver should not loosen any personal safety equipment until directed to do so by safety personnel or a NASCAR or track official. After being told to exit the car, the driver should proceed to an emergency vehicle or as otherwise directed.

The rule takes effect immediately and applies to all of NASCAR's series.

"Really, we're formalizing rules that have been there," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition and racing development. "It's reminders that take place during drivers meetings with drivers about on-track accidents."

Last Saturday, Stewart's car struck and killed Ward at a sprint car race in Canandaigua, New York. After Stewart appeared to clip Ward's car, sending it spinning, Ward left the car during the caution period, walked down the track and was hit by Stewart. His funeral was Thursday.

Stewart could face criminal charges. He is skipping this weekend's Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway.

"Through time you have to recognize when you get a reminder or tap on the shoulder, something that may need to be addressed," Pemberton said. "This is one of those times where we look outside our sport and we look at other things, and we feel like it was time to address this."

It remains to be seen how NASCAR will enforce the provision, and how much the threat of penalties will deter drivers in the heat of the moment. Jimmie Johnson, six-time champion and one of NASCAR's most respected drivers, said he thought it was the right move.

"Will that stop a driver that's really upset?" Johnson said. "I don't know. It's hard to say."

"There's still going to be confrontations out there and that's never going to change. People will still get mad at each other," added Joey Logano. "You've got to keep the big picture of staying safe out there and somehow controlling your emotions."

The sport has thrived thanks to the personalities of some of its biggest stars and that includes an occasional feud or angry encounter at the track. Stewart once threw his helmet at Matt Kenseth's windshield. In 2003, Kevin Harvick climbed on the roof of his car to shout at Ricky Rudd, who had nudged him from behind late in a race.

The 1979 Daytona 500 is remembered for a last-lap crash between Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough as they raced for the lead. The crash led to a three-man fight after Allison's brother, Bobby, pulled up to the accident scene.

An occasional shouting match or obscene gesture may seem like a harmless frivolity, but Ward's death underscored the dangers of being on foot near moving race cars.

Johnson said the risk may be higher on dirt tracks.

"A lot of those dirt drivers don't have spotters. They don't have radios in the car. And in a NASCAR event, especially if you're part of the crash and that guy is mad at you, your spotter is telling you where he is," Johnson said. "I would just say that hopefully short tracks pick up this philosophy and enforce it. But I don't know if it will change a driver's mind as they get out of the race car. But it would be nice for the rest of the field to know what has happened and if there is a hot-tempered driver on foot."

Johnson recalled a Sprint Cup race his rookie year at Bristol when Robby Gordon wrecked him on a restart.

"I got out and shot him the bird," Johnson said.

He has a slightly different perspective now.

"I'm sure I picked up a few fans and lost a few fans," he said. "Now, as a parent, if my child's hero was out there shooting the bird to another ballplayer, baseball player or football player or whatever it was, I'd probably try to steer my kids away from that. So, it depends.

"I don't think that entertainment value should come with any safety implications. Safety is the number one priority for drivers, crew members, and the officials that are out there on the race track. And if it turns a few fans off, then in my opinion, they're a fan for the wrong reason."

Comments

gene44870

This last statement is very true and I hate to see it when anyone of the drivers get badly hurt . But at the same token when you have drivers that think they are better then all the rest or have had a lot of lady luck with them on the track and they turn it around to make the look better then all the rest . When the fact is . It wss luck that helped them as well as a little skll.
One thing that every driver out thete knows is that anything can happen at anytime and anywhere . Fate doesnt discrimanate against anyone due to the number of wins ot yhe number of tracks you where lucky enough to sirvive through

SamAdams

Here we have yet another rule that shouldn't have been made because simple common sense tells you that you shouldn't be playing in traffic...

Obviously, I understand why NASCAR made the rule. It just seems a shame to me that grown-ups can be such idiots, or that the rest of us have to protect other grown-ups from their own stupidity (not to mention protect corporations like NASCAR from lawsuits that all too often spring out of simple -- and stupid -- perfectly natural cause and effect).

observer1

I agree. I just wish they would have put some teeth into the rule. Penalties will be assessed depending on the individual circumstances. That's BS. They should have come down hard and said if you get out of your car, you get a 5 race suspension.

The Big Dog's back

Why don't we armed them so they can exercise their 2nd amendment rights when something happens like this.

Donegan

Go play in traffic Dog.

knowitall

Let's see......cars speeding around an oval going up to 200 mph (nascar). I think I will get out of my car and confront someone. Sounds smart to me.
So, nascar has to make it a rule to not get out of the car. If that helps, make it so.

puddin95

It was a caution lap, They were not racing at the time.

knowitall

I was just commenting on the new nascar rule for Sunday races.