Daytona International Speedway to cover walls with SAFER barriers

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Daytona International Speedway will add SAFER barriers on all concrete walls, track president Joie Chitwood said Saturday night after Kyle Busch was injured when his car slammed into a concrete wall during the Xfinity race.

Busch will not compete in Sunday’s Daytona 500. He is awake and alert and being treated for a right leg injury, according to NASCAR.

“The Daytona International Speedway did not live up to its responsibility today,’’ Chitwood said. “We should have had a SAFER barrier there and we did not. We’re going to fix that. We’re going to fix that right now.’’

Chitwood said that tire packs will be placed along the 850-foot wall inside Turn 1 and be in place for the Daytona 500.

“Following that, the Daytona International Speedway is going to install SAFER barrier on every inch at this property,” Chitwood said. “This is not going to happen again.

“We have to have a venue which we can put on NASCAR racing and have competitors be safe.”

SAFER barriers are a combination of steel and foam and absorb the energy in an accident to lessen the chance of a driver’s injury.

SAFER barriers are installed in areas recommended by safety experts NASCAR consults. Those are in high-impact areas on the track. SAFER barriers have been added at various tracks after drivers hit concrete walls.

“What happened tonight should not have happened,’’ said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president. “That’s on us.’’

Still, many tracks on the circuit have walls not protected by SAFER barriers. Will those tracks be required to follow Daytona International Speedway’s example of covering all of its walls with the barrier?

“What we’ve said here tonight is we will accelerate those talks with the tracks,’’ O’Donnell said. “We want this sport to be as safe as possible for not only our drivers, but everyone who participates in the sport and the race fans as well.’’