NASCAR investigating Talladega accidents, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s steering wheel

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NASCAR is looking into what led cars to get airborne Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway and will investigate what caused Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s steering wheel to detach after his second wreck, a NASCAR executive told “The Morning Drive” on Monday.

“Some really intense racing all throughout the day, and some things we didn’t like with cars getting up in the air and we’re already fast at work at the R&D Center, looking at all the video we have,’’ Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We’ll reach out to the teams to see what we can do to immediately take some action to work towards correcting that.’’

Chris Buescher’s car tumbled down the backstretch after being hit by another car, and Matt Kenseth’s car was sent airborne after contact turned his car sideways and the air picked his vehicle up. Neither driver was injured in the separate incidents.

“You never want to see that,’’ O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio about those incidents. “So (what) you immediately work on is everybody safe, did the safety equipment do its job and what we can learn from that? The immediate steps are to review all the media shots that we have of those incidents, work with the race teams and then look at what may or may not be different from when we’ve been not only at Talladega but any other race track.

“We’ve had a car get in the air at other tracks as well. We’ll look at that. We’ll study the cars as well. We’ll work with the industry. I’ve said many times, not particularly related to a car getting in the air, but in all instances where we can learn and work with the best engineers in the world that are part of our race industry, we’ll do that.

“Safety is first and foremost for all of us. We’ll start that process. It’s not something that we’ve just started. We always look at that. It’s always something in our DNA. We’ll work with the race teams and see what we can learn and then from that apply that to the race cars and the track.’’

O’Donnell said every accident is unique because of the speed, angle of the car, the position of the car and more.

“That will be all of our process in sitting down and reviewing that,’’ O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

That also will include looking at what happened to Earnhardt’s steering wheel. Earnhardt’s teammate, Jimmie Johnson, had a steering wheel come off at Phoenix, leading to his crash in qualifying there.

O’Donnell was asked if Earnhardt’s issue was isolated or something more.

“Even if it is an isolated incident, we’ll look at it,’’ O’Donnell said. “It could be something that could cause issues down the road if it was a trend. We’ll talk to (Earnhardt) and his team and make sure hopefully that was just what you said initially an isolated incident and go from there, but if there is anything we can take from that, we will certainly communicate that to all the teams. It’s not something you want to see, especially potentially at speed.’’

Earnhardt tweeted Monday he took responsibility for the steering wheel issue.

O’Donnell also discussed NASCAR’s review of the finish of Saturday’s Xfinity race. Series officials needed about five minutes to review various video angles to determine who won. Elliott Sadler was declared the winner even though Brennan Poole crossed the line first. NASCAR ruled that Sadler was in the lead when the caution waved for Joey Logano’s accident after he had contact with Sadler racing for the win.

“We can always learn as we go,’’ O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “It was so intense there wanting to get the decision made as quickly as possible. In our recap of what happened Saturday, we could have done a better job, particularly with the television partners, MRN, and the PA announcer for the track explaining what was happening.

“Moving forward I think that’s on us to communicate that a little better in terms of what we are doing and what the process is to determine a winner if that were to occur again.’’