NASCAR officials plan to talk to pit crew members who rushed to aid Austin Dillon after his last-lap crash but will not penalize them, Steve O’Donnell told NASCAR SiriusXM Radio on Tuesday.
Pit crew members from the teams of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and Casey Mears were among those who ran to Dillon’s car, which landed upside down near the exit of pit road after crashing into the catch fence at Daytona International Speedway.
O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, explained on “The Morning Drive” what officials want to discuss with the pit crew members.
“Nobody is going to be penalized,” O’Donnell said. “I think people may be commenting on it because we took some hard cards (that will be returned upon meeting with officials) and the reason for that is we want to have a conversation with those folks. Listen, we all applaud everybody who wants to run to a scene and try to help out. That’s something that I think that is really cool about our industry in terms of people caring about their fellow athletes.
“We just want to talk about the safety aspect of it. We’ve got to dispatch our safety equipment – those folks are experts – and to be able to get to Austin as quickly as possible, assess the scene, his belts, what may be going on, do we need to turn the car over, can he be moved from the vehicle or should he stay in. Any second that we can’t do that because the car may be surrounded can be a challenge. That’s just a conversation we want to have.
“We’ve also seen guys where someone running out has been hit by a safety vehicle, not at a NASCAR race. We’ve seen some pretty severe injuries in other forms of motorsports. We just wanted to walk through it with those guys. We applaud the fact that they care. But you know, it was all in the interest for us, going forward, that we respond to the driver in the most correct way possible.”