Swift action by IndyCar’s safety team to save driver’s life has NASCAR racers taking notice


CONCORD, N.C. – Some NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers met with series officials about safety concerns, including the sport not having a traveling safety team similar to IndyCar, shortly after Kyle Busch was injured in a Feb. 21 crash at Daytona International Speedway.

Reigning series champion Kevin Harvick confirmed meeting with NASCAR, and that a traveling safety team was discussed, saying “that’s a conversation a group of us have had on week two (of the season).’’

Harvick called the meeting educational, saying he learned more about the experience level of doctors who are at the tracks and how NASCAR’s system operates.

“Once they explained the process and how the doctors were chosen, (it) was definitely kind of eye-opening as to how much money and time was spent to make sure they had the right people at every race track, and really the longevity of the staff,’’ Harvick said.

“I don’t think anybody is saying that it can’t always be better. But I feel pretty confident in what the process is and the medical staff that we have at the tracks.”

The actions of IndyCar’s safety team in saving James Hinchcliffe’s life this week revived the topic of NASCAR not having a similar safety crew that travels from race to race.

“I have sat in on a lot of discussions batting around the reason why we have the situation we do,’’ six-time champion Jimmie Johnson said Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “NASCAR is adamant that having true ER folks that every single day fight in an ER room to save people’s lives are the best people to have in place here on a weekend for us. In my heart, I feel like there is maybe a hybrid version where, yes, we have those EMT’s here, but then we also have people that are very sharp and NASCAR specific, car specific, know the drivers and know our cockpits.’’

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, defended NASCAR’s stance on using local medics on track safety crews in an appearance this week on Motor Racing Network’s “NASCAR Live.’’

“I think we always look at it but keep coming back to where we believe we have the best in the world and the best system in place,’’ O’Donnell said on the radio show. “We like to rely on folks who are doing those sorts of things each and every day. The doctors who are reacting to an on-track incident have probably seen something in the last 24 hours.

“We want to be with the local folks who know the routines with the local hospitals in the event we ever had to react. A lot of training goes into it with the tracks. We’re very comfortable with the policies we have in place.’’

Johnson said it would be “smart” to talk to Juan Pablo Montoya about the safety aspects in both NASCAR and IndyCar since Montoya competed in both series and ask “what is the difference? Where can we be better?’’

Asked about IndyCar’s safety team, Montoya told NBC Sports’ Nate Ryan: “They do an amazing job. The reaction and how fast they get on the track is good. I think the other thing as drivers we do, as soon as something like that happens, we know we need to slow down and be at attention that a truck is coming. They react a lot better than most series do.’’

Asked if IndyCar has the best team, Montoya said: “I do think so, yeah. They do understand how fast we’re going, the danger and everything. They do a good job with that.’’

IndyCar’s safety team consists of about 30 safety personnel with a minimum of 18 attending each event – a trauma physician, an orthopedic physician, two paramedics, 12 firefighters/EMTs and two registered nurses. IndyCar states that safety team personnel have an average of 20 years of experience in their respected areas.

Dr. Timothy Pohlman, senior staff trauma surgeon IU Health Methodist Hospital, credited IndyCar’s safety team in its response to Hinchcliffe’s injuries.

Hinchcliffe suffered a puncture to the left upper thigh that caused heavy bleeding from a damaged artery. Immediate surgery was required.

“His condition was critical upon his arrival, and I think the IndyCar system as a whole needs to be commended for how well they can take care of drivers in this situation,’’ Pohlman said in a statement from IndyCar.

Brad Keselowski says NASCAR doesn’t get as much credit for what it has done.

“NASCAR very quietly has a similar safety team with Todd Marshall,” said Keselowski, referring to NASCAR’s manager of track services who oversees emergency, safety and medical teams at each track. “Is it completely a copy of what IndyCar has? No, It’s definitely different, but I think it’s a lot better than what this sport had five or 10 years ago.”

Marshall goes to the crash site to oversee the safety teams.

“I know Todd and Todd is the guy on the scene first every time,” Keselowski told NASCAR Talk. “I trust him. The depth of the team is not, perhaps, as strong. The reality is when you get down to a moment like that, one guy is going to be able to help you. He’s the guy I trust.”

Still, Jamie McMurray sees the IndyCar model as the future for NASCAR.

“To me the safety crew that goes every week is the next step that NASCAR will take or I hope they will do,’’ McMurray told NASCAR Talk. To me NASCAR has, hands down, done the most amazing job of making our sport safer for the drivers, pit crew guys.’’

Even so, he said a safety team traveling each week could be more familiar with the cars and drivers in emergencies.

“To me when that guy does it every single week and that’s his job, he will do it at a different level than someone you had a meeting with at 9 a.m. that morning,’’ McMurray said.

While Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he likes what NASCAR has done with safety, he also sees where more could be done.

“I think there’s some advantages to that,’’ Earnhardt said of a traveling safety team similar to IndyCar’s. “That’s been a topic of conversation right over the years as to whether that would be something that NASCAR could put together and make happen.

“There’s definitely some advantages to the consistency of the same people (being) there every week and knowing each individual driver on a personal level, but the changes that NASCAR has made over the last several years, I’ve noticed the personnel that they do have are consistently there week in and week out and are diligent. Any time I’ve had an accident or any time I’ve had an illness or anything, they’re constantly in contact with me about what I need, am I feeling OK, what can they do to help.’’


NASCAR Power Rankings: William Byron, Kyle Busch rank 1-2


Kyle Busch moved closer to the top spot after his win Sunday at WWT Raceway, but William Byron keeps hold of No. 1 after another top-10 run.

The series heads to Sonoma Raceway this weekend, the second race of the season on a road course.


(Previous ranking in parenthesis)

1. William Byron (1) — He goes into Sonoma with six consecutive top-10 finishes after his eighth-place result at WWT Raceway. Byron has led a series-high 717 laps this season.

2. Kyle Busch (4) — Recorded his third win of the season Sunday. He is tied with Byron for most wins this year. Busch scored 59 of a maximum 60 points and won his first stage of the year Sunday. He has 16 playoff points. Only Byron has more with 17 this season.

3. Kyle Larson (3) — His fourth-place finish continued his up-and-down season. In the last nine races, Larson has two wins, four top fives, a 20th-place result and four finishes of 30th or worse. He has led 588 laps this season, which ranks second this year to Byron.

4. Martin Truex Jr. (2) — His fifth-place finish is his sixth top 10 in the last eight races. He ranks third in laps led this year with 383.

5. Denny Hamlin (7) — Runner-up result at WWT Raceway is his fourth top 10 in the last seven races.

6. Ryan Blaney (10) — Followed Coca-Cola 600 win with a sixth-place run at WWT Raceway. He had an average running position of 2.6 on Sunday, second only to winner Kyle Busch’s average running position of 1.9.

7. Joey Logano (9) — Third-place finish is his second top 10 in the last four races.

8. Kevin Harvick (NR) — His 10th-place finish is his fourth consecutive finish of 11th or better.

9. Ross Chastain (6) — Lost the points lead after placing 22nd, his third consecutive finish outside the top 20.

10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (NR) — Headed for his eighth top 15 in a row until he was collected in a crash after the contact between Austin Cindric and Austin Dillon late in Sunday’s race.

Dropped out: Chase Elliott (5th), Tyler Reddick (8th)

NASCAR will not penalize Austin Cindric for incident with Austin Dillon


Despite Richard Childress and Austin Dillon saying that Austin Cindric intentionally wrecked Dillon late in Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway, NASCAR will not penalize Cindric.

Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that there would be no penalty to Cindric after reviewing the contact.

Dillon and Childress were upset about the incident, which brought out the caution on Lap 220 of the 243-lap race. Dillon said NASCAR should suspend Cindric for the contact, just as NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for hooking Denny Hamlin in the Coca-Cola 600.

Contact between the left front of Cindric’s car and the right rear of Dillon’s car sent Dillon up the track into Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Dillon finished 31st. Cindric continued and placed 13th.

Dillon told Frontstretch.com: “I was wrecked intentionally by (Cindric), hooked right just like Chase and Denny and Bubba’s deal (in wrecking Kyle Larson at Las Vegas in 2022). He better be suspended next week.”

Childress said: “(Dillon) had drove up to about 10th until (Cindric) wrecked him in there on purpose, sort of a payback.”

Sawyer said a review of the incident included viewing video and data.

“We didn’t see anything — and haven’t seen anything — that really would rise to a level that would be a suspension or a penalty,” Sawyer said. “It looked like hard racing. One car coming up a little bit and another car going down.

“As we said last week, we take these incidents very serious when we see cars that are turned head-on into another car or head-on into the wall. I spent a lot of time (Monday) looking at that, looking at all the data, looking at TV footage and just deemed this one really hard racing.”

Sawyer said NASCAR plans to talk to both Cindric and Dillon “to make sure we’re all in a good place as we move forward to Sonoma.”



Seven Cup drivers entered in Xfinity race at Sonoma


Kyle Larson is among seven Cup drivers entered in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

The race marks the first time the Xfinity Series has competed at the California road course. Teams will get 50 minutes of practice Friday because this is a new event on the schedule. That additional time will give those Cup drivers more laps on the 1.99-mile road course.

MORE: Sonoma Xfinity entry list

Here is a look at what Xfinity rides the Cup drivers will pilot this weekend:

The race is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET Saturday.

The ARCA Menards Series West also is competing this weekend at Sonoma Raceway. Cup driver Ryan Preece is entered in that event. Xfinity drivers Cole Custer, Riley Herbst, Sammy Smith and Parker Retzlaff also are entered in that race, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. ET Friday.


Winners and losers at WWT Raceway


Winners and losers from Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway:


Kyle BuschWins the pole, leads the most laps and holds the field off over the last five restarts to win the race. He scored six playoff points, giving him 16 on the season, second only to William Byron’s 17. Busch left Joe Gibbs Racing after last season for Richard Childress Racing. Busch’s three wins this year equals what JGR has done so far.

Ryan BlaneyHis sixth-place finish moved him into the points lead. He last led the points after the spring 2022 Richmond race. Blaney also won a stage Sunday to collect another playoff point. He has seven this season.

Kyle LarsonFourth-place finish was a big turnaround after struggles earlier in the race. It has not been easy for this team the last few weeks. He has three top-five finishes and four finishes of 20th or worse in the last seven races.

Daniel SuarezHis seventh-place finish moved him up two spots to 16th in the standings, the final playoff transfer spot at this time.


Ross ChastainHe finished 22nd for his third consecutive result outside the top 20. He entered the weekend leading the points and fell to fifth afterward. He is 29 points behind new series leader Ryan Blaney with 11 races left in the regular season.

Tyler ReddickRebounded from an early spin to lead but had his race end after a brake rotor failed. He was one of four drivers eliminated by brake rotor failures. The others were Carson Hocevar, Bubba Wallace and Noah Gragson.