CHARLOTTE, N.C. – After lobbying multiple times for the addition of a traveling safety team, a NASCAR Drivers Council member was pleased to see its arrival Wednesday in the Cup Series.
“(The safety team) is something that the council has brought up quite a few times, and it’s a struggle to figure out how to do that with insurance and legally,” Joey Logano said Wednesday in an interview with NBC Sports. “It’s a little over my head.
“But why can’t we have someone who is on site when get there? What are we waiting on? You’re not the only person to ask that question. Believe me, I think every driver has asked this question at some point in their careers. Why don’t we have a physician that we know? … When I got the call they were announcing it, I was like, ‘Hell, yeah!’ It’s super.”
NASCAR will partner with American Medical Response to have a team of doctors and paramedics who will be in a chase vehicle that responds to on-track incidents in the Cup Series (and companion Xfinity races).
AMR also will have a doctor installed as national medical director, who will coordinate with NASCAR’s medical liaisons (who have been part of medical services for more than a decade).
The teams still work with existing track-specific safety crews that have been NASCAR’s longstanding policy for crash response and driver medical care.
Logano, who has been on the council since its 2015 inception, said it would be a relief to be treated by more consistently familiar faces under the new system.
“We’re not saying hello to someone that we’ve never met before in a very vulnerable stage or a risky time,” the Team Penske driver said. “It’s a fairly safe sport, but we’ve all seen things go wrong pretty quick. NASCAR has done a good job with having the (liaisons) and being able to build a relationship with them, and you know that when you’re there it’s a familiar face.
“But when you first get out of the car, it could be the most traumatic time, and there’s nobody ever there that you know. You get out, and it’s a different face every time. Some of them haven’t spent a whole bunch of time around race cars, which is OK, but it just kind of makes it a little bit harder, and we’re all hot, heated and pissed off, so it’s not the most pleasant experience for anybody.”
There also are instances in which doctors who know drivers’ demeanors and patient histories could avoid potential misdiagnosis (Matt DiBenedetto’s situation at Texas Motor Speedway last November comes to mind).
A rotating pool of emergency trauma physicians will divide the travel to the 36-race season. Doctors will be licensed in the states where the races are held.
“There’s going to be a mix of a few different physicians, but there’s going to be ones that we know, and we’ll have an opportunity to meet them and get to know them,” Logano said. “And they’ll know our records and who we are and what we do and our (health) history.
“I think it’s a good play by NASCAR. It’s something that obviously has taken a long time to figure out how to do that, but I’m glad it’s getting done.