Brian France: “If we don’t get safety right, then nothing else really matters”


In an interview today on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, NASCAR Chairman Brian France said that the sanctioning body would improve its efforts on track safety following Kyle Busch’s serious crash in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway.

As part of a 10-car incident with less than 10 laps to go on Saturday, Busch hit an inside retaining wall that was not protected by a SAFER (steel and foam energy reduction) barrier. Busch sustained a compound fracture of his lower right leg and another fracture in his left foot, and is now out indefinitely.

Following Busch’s crash, Daytona president Joie Chitwood vowed to install SAFER barriers on all concrete walls at the 2.5-mile oval. Additionally, NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell said that the sport would “accelerate” talks with other tracks to install more SAFER barriers at those facilities.

“Joie [Chitwood] was very clear that we didn’t get that right and if our effort’s not up – in particular in safety, in particular there – then we’re going to get it up,” France added today in his interview. “And we’ll sort that out and make sure going forward that, you know, what I’ve said publicly, which is what I’ve said privately, is, hey, look if there’s a sensitive area of the track and we can improve it with SAFER barriers then we need to do that.

“And so, that’s exactly where we are and I‘m really disappointed that we didn’t get that right and obviously disappointed for Kyle. But we will. We’ll get that right going forward. That’s a cornerstone of what we do. If we don’t get safety right, then nothing else really matters.”

In the moments after Busch’s crash on Saturday, many of his fellow drivers were critical on social media about the lack of a SAFER barrier where he hit. However, when France was asked if that would force tracks to make changes quicker than they would have if a crash like Busch’s didn’t occur, he replied in the negative.

“No, no, and the reason is it is instantaneous,” France explained. “My phone is going off, Mike Helton’s phone is going off – ‘Didn’t we get this right? Was there a SAFER barrier where it probably should have been?’ Those are instantaneous notes and as soon as someone says, ‘Nope, we didn’t get that right,’ it’s an automatic, ‘How do we correct that?’ It’s instantaneous.

“We’re not waiting for a bunch of social media traffic to tell us that. We get it. And we need to get that, that’s what we do. Joie Chitwood said it best – hey, look, that’s unacceptable. And we’re going to own that and move forward. That’s how we’re wired. That’s a cornerstone of what we do. Safety and performance are at the hallmark of NASCAR.”

At least two other tracks are planning to install more SAFER barriers following Saturday’s events.

Kentucky Speedway general manager Mark Simendinger has confirmed plans to add a SAFER barrier to the backstretch of the 1.5-mile oval in time for its NASCAR tripleheader (Cup, Xfinity, Camping World Truck) weekend in July.

“Sometimes, you have to see what can possibly happen before you realize that you’ve got a problem that needs to be corrected,” Simendinger said to the Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal. “Obviously, it’s an expensive thing to do. It takes time. But it’s something we’re committed to.

“I’ve always said safety is our No. 1 thing, so that’s what we’re going to do assuming we can get the work done between now and our races.”

Additionally, Talladega Superspeedway president Grant Lynch told USA Today that his 2.66-mile track – which is a restrictor plate track like Daytona – will also look to add more barriers before its spring NASCAR weekend in May.

“Based on what we saw [Saturday] and what Joie talked about, we’re going to be reassessing again the walls at Talladega with the mindset of where can we put it that can keep those things from happening in the future,” Lynch said. “I’m sure you’ll see us mirror what they decide to do at Daytona. We’ve always done that.”

NASCAR suspends Chase Elliott one race for incident with Denny Hamlin

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NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one Cup race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600, the sanctioning body announced Tuesday.

“We take this very seriously,” Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition, said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The incident that happened off Turn 4, again after looking at all the available resources — in-car camera, data, SMT, which basically gives us (a car’s) steering, throttle, gives us braking — it was an intentional act by Chase in our opinion.”

Hendrick Motorsports stated that it would not appeal the penalty. Corey LaJoie will drive the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports this weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway. Carson Hocevar will drive LaJoie’s car this weekend.

Hendrick Motorsports also stated that it would submit a waiver request for Elliott to remain eligible for the playoffs. Sawyer said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “I don’t see any reason at this point in time why wouldn’t (grant the waiver) when that request comes across our desk.”

This weekend will mark the seventh race in the first 15 that Elliott will have missed. He missed six races after breaking his leg in a snowboarding accident in early March. Elliott, who is winless this season, is 29th in points.

Elliott and Hamlin got together shortly before the halfway mark in Monday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

As they ran together, Elliott’s car slapped the outside wall. Elliott’s car then made contact with the right rear of Hamlin’s car, sending Hamlin into the wall.

“I got right-rear hooked in the middle of the straightway,” Hamlin said after the incident. “Yes, it was a tantrum. He shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

Said Sawyer on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio: “In the heat of the battle, things happen, but they have to learn to react in a different way. … Our drivers need to understand that you have to handle that in a completely different way than hooking someone in the right rear and putting them in harm’s way, not only with just a major head-on collision like Denny had, but also other competitors.”

Sawyer also said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “nothing gave us the indication that on that particular contact with the fourth-turn wall … that anything was broke” on Elliott’s car and could have caused him to come down and hit Hamlin’s car in the right rear.

NASCAR also announced that Scott Brzozowski and Adam Lewis, crew members on Michael McDowell‘s team, had each been suspended two races after McDowell’s car lost a tire in Monday’s race.

Winners and losers at Charlotte Motor Speedway


A look at winners and losers from Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway:


Ryan Blaney — Blaney stopped his winless streak at 59 races and gave team owner Roger Penske his second major race victory in two days. Blaney had the best car but had to fight through restarts late in the race to win.

William Byron — Byron, the winningest driver this season, barely missed getting victory No. 4. He finished second and scored his fifth straight top 10.

Martin Truex Jr. — Truex logged his third top five of the season.

23XI RacingBubba Wallace was fourth and Tyler Reddick fifth, giving 23XI Racing a pair of top-five finishes for the first time in a points race.


Jimmie Johnson — The seven-time champion admitted having problems adjusting to the Next Gen car on a 1.5-mile track. He crashed early and finished last.

Legacy Motor Club — It was a bad night for Jimmie Johnson and his team’s drivers. Johnson finished last in the 37-car field. Noah Gragson was 36th. Erik Jones placed 32nd.

Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin — Two drivers who had strong cars didn’t make it to the finish after crashing near the halfway point. Hamlin said Elliott “shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

NASCAR Xfinity Series results: Justin Allgaier wins at Charlotte


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier finally broke through for his first win of the NASCAR Xfinity Series season Monday night.

Allgaier stretched his last fuel load over the final laps to finish in front of John Hunter Nemechek. Cole Custer was third, Austin Hill fourth and Ty Gibbs fifth. Gibbs ran both races Monday, completing 900 miles.

The win also was the first of the season for JR Motorsports.

Charlotte Xfinity results

Xfinity points after Charlotte

Justin Allgaier wins NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier won a fuel-mileage gamble to win Monday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Allgaier stretched his fuel to outlast second-place John Hunter Nemechek. Following in the top five were Cole Custer, Austin Hill and Ty Gibbs.

The victory was Allgaier’s first of the year and the first of the season for JR Motorsports. He has 20 career wins.

MORE: Charlotte Xfinity results

After a long day at CMS, the race ended at 11:25 p.m. The race started Monday morning but was stopped twice because of weather before it was halted with 48 of 200 laps completed so that the Coca-Cola 600 Cup Series race could be run.

When the race was stopped, Gibbs, Nemechek and Allgaier were in the top three positions.

Gibbs won the first two stages.

Stage 1 winner: Ty Gibbs

Stage 2 winner: Ty Gibbs

Who had a good race: Justin Allgaier has had good cars in previous races but finally cashed in with a win Monday. He led 83 laps. … John Hunter Nemechek, in second, scored his fifth top-two run of the season. … Cole Custer scored his sixth straight top-10 finish. … Ty Gibbs lasted 900 miles for the day and led 52 laps in the Xfinity race.

Who had a bad race: Sam Mayer was running 10th when he spun off Turn 2. He finished 35th. … Sheldon Creed finished three laps down in 28th.

Next: The series moves on to Portland International Raceway in Oregon for a 4:30 p.m. ET race June 3.