A NASCAR executive explained Monday why there was no SAFER barrier along the outside frontstretch wall at Dover International Speedway after multiple cars struck the concrete wall this past weekend.
Jamie McMurray and Tony Stewart each slammed into an unprotected concrete wall off Turn 4 after they ran through oil from Danica Patrick’s car during Friday’s Sprint Cup practice. Justin Marks hit the outside wall during his Xfinity heat race Saturday.
McMurray, who was sore from his hit, said it was “unacceptable” the outside wall at Dover did not have a SAFER barrier. He was not alone in speaking out. Patrick and Kevin Harvick each called for the SAFER barrier to be added in that location at Dover.
Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio why there wasn’t a SAFER barrier along the frontstretch wall.
“When we looked at SAFER barriers all being in place for this racing season, the plan had always been at both Dover and Indianapolis on the frontstretch wall to not have that covered,’’ O’Donnell said. “There was some logistics and reasoning behind that in terms of really narrowing the frontstretch lane. SAFER barriers were potentially going to dump some of the cars back out into the frontstretch and have the potential of a T-bone of a driver and then there were some challenges in going into Turn 1.
“Obviously after we went through this weekend, we’ve got to look at what tweaks we can make and be able to install those and maybe look at how the frontstretch could work those in. It wasn’t something that the track or anyone said, ‘Hey we’re not going to do this,’ there was some reasoning behind it. Obviously, after what happened all throughout the weekend, that’s something that we’ve got to address and we’ll do that and very confident the track will work with us as well.’’
NASCAR and tracks have made a concentrated effort to add SAFER barriers after Kyle Busch was injured in an Xfinity race at Daytona International Speedway at the beginning of last season when he struck an unprotected concrete wall. Dover added 479 feet of SAFER barrier before this weekend along the inside wall at the backstretch and inside Turn 3.