AVONDALE, Ariz. - NASCAR will look at the placement of gates at its tracks after a Nationwide Series car crashed through the fence at Daytona and injured more than two dozen fans.
The fans were injured during the 12-car crash last Saturday when pieces of rookie Kyle Larson's car ripped through the fence, including a section where a gate connects the grandstand and the track.
"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 ...," Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR's senior vice president, racing operations, said Saturday from Phoenix International Raceway. "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? ..."
The crash occurred on the final lap of the Nationwide race the day before the Daytona 500, when leader Regan Smith tried to block Brad Keselowski and triggered a chain reaction. Larson's car went airborne during the wreck, and slammed into the fence, sending debris into the stands.
O'Donnell said two injured fans remain at the hospital, but everyone else has been released.
The crash has forced NASCAR to take a closer look at its safety measures, particularly fencing around its tracks.
O'Donnell said NASCAR mostly leaves fencing up to the individual tracks, but may look at being more involved, similar to what it did requiring impact-absorbing SAFER barriers along concrete walls.
"It's important to note that most of the safety elements in that car did their job," O'Donnell said. "The driver, as you saw, walked away. ... Our focus is going to be if the elements in the car did their job, now what do we need to do in looking at the impact of the fence, what happened when that car impacted the fence with parts getting away."
O'Donnell also said that the tethers that hold Larson's car together worked, but that the section the tethers were attached to sheared the car, sending pieces flying.
Instead of bringing Larson's car immediately back to NASCAR's R&D center in Charlotte, N.C., it was left in Daytona so track officials can look at the fencing.
Daytona will have its experts work with an outside firm to analyze what was in place and analyze what may need to be done.
NASCAR SPRINT CUP
Subway Fresh Fit 500
At Avondale, Ariz.
2:20 p.m. Sunday
Original Print Headline: Gates a worry for NASCAR
NASCAR Sprint Cup: Subway Fresh Fit 500 Lineup
After Friday qualifying; race Sunday
At Phoenix International Raceway
Lap Length: 1 mile
(Car number in parentheses)
Carmaker abbreviations: C=Chevrolet, D=Dodge, F=Ford, T=Toyota
1. (55) M. Martin, T, 138.074 mph.
2. (5) K. Kahne, C, 137.862.
3. (48) J. Johnson, C, 137.804.
4. (18) Ky. Busch, T, 137.673.
5. (24) J. Gordon, C, 137.164.
6. (14) T. Stewart, C, 137.143.
7. (29) K. Harvick, C, 137.075.
8. (11) D. Hamlin, T, 136.924.
9. (20) M. Kenseth, T, 136.882.
10. (39) R. Newman, C, 136.861.
11. (2) Bra. Keselowski, F, 136.835.
12. (17) R. Stenhouse Jr., F, 136.731.
13. (15) C. Bowyer, T, 136.654.
14. (56) M. Truex Jr., T, 136.602.
15. (99) C. Edwards, F, 136.483.
16. (27) P. Menard, C, 136.364.
17. (16) G. Biffle, F, 136.291.
18. (43) A. Almirola, F, 136.266.
19. (1) J. McMurray, C, 135.936.
20. (31) J. Burton, C, 135.89.
21. (88) D. Earnhardt Jr., C, 135.87.
22. (9) M. Ambrose, F, 135.44.
23. (51) A.J. Allmendinger, C, 135.44.
24. (34) D. Ragan, F, 135.267.
25. (78) Ku. Busch, C, 135.247.
26. (7) D. Blaney, C, 135.1.
27. (36) J. Yeley, C, 135.064.
28. (95) S. Speed, F, 134.917.
29. (42) J. Pablo Montoya, C, 134.821.
30. (93) T. Kvapil, T, 134.705.
31. (38) D. Gilliland, F, 134.695.
32. (22) J. Logano, F, 134.373.
33. (47) B. Labonte, T, 134.343.
34. (83) D. Reutimann, T, 133.814.
35. (19) M. Bliss, T, 133.774.
36. (35) J. Wise, F, 133.591.
37. (30) D. Stremme, T, Owner Points.
38. (33) L. Cassill, C, Owner Points.
39. (44) S. Riggs, F, Owner Points.
40. (10) D. Patrick, C, Owner Points.
41. (87) J. Nemechek, T, Owner Points.
42. (32) K. Schrader, F, Owner Points.
43. (13) C. Mears, F, Owner Points.