HAMPTON, Ga. – Jeff Gordon said he’s frustrated he hit another concrete wall not protected by a SAFER barrier.
Gordon’s hit in Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway came a week after Kyle Busch suffered a broken leg and a broken foot when his Xfinity car slammed into a
concrete wall at Daytona International Speedway.
“I’m very frustrated the fact that there was no SAFER barrier down there,’’ Gordon said after exiting the infield care center. “I know it was a hard hit. I didn’t expect it to be that hard. I go out and looked and ‘Oh well, big surprise I found the one wall on the backstraightaway that doesn’t have a SAFER barrier.’ ‘’
Is there more drivers can do to get SAFER barriers around all tracks as Daytona International Speedway officials have stated they will do?
“I don’t think we can say any more after Kyle’s incident at Daytona,’’ said Gordon, who finished 41st. “Everybody knows they’ve got to do something. It should have been done a long time ago. All we can do now is hope they do it as fast as they possibly can and get it done.’’
One of Gordon’s legacies will be tracks adding SAFER barriers where he’s hit.
Tracks installed SAFER barriers on inside backstretch walls at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Richmond International Raceway after Gordon struck those. Gordon hit the Las Vegas wall in 2008 and Richmond wall in 2011. He hit a concrete wall along the inside of the backstretch Sunday during a multi-car crash that started when Denny Hamlin spun in traffic.
Ed Clark, president and general manager of Atlanta Motor Speedway, said “I’m pretty sure” when the series returns next year that all of the inside backstretch wall will be covered by a SAFER barrier.
The track made some adjustments before this weekend. Track officials extended a wall at the exit of pit road to decrease the angle of impact of an inside curved wall. Clark said that the track added 117 feet of tire barriers to protect an inside wall in Turn 4.
Gordon’s incident started when Hamlin struck Ryan Newman’s car and Newman bounced into Jamie McMurray’s car. That sent McMurray up the track and he hit Gordon in the left rear, sending Gordon into the inside wall.
Gordon’s car struck a section that was not protected by the steel-and-foam barriers, which are intended to absorb the energy and lessen the chance of a driver’s injury.
“My very first thought was what a bad way to end a wonderful career here,’’ Clark said. “I just hate that his last week here is going to be remembered like that.’’