Reigning Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch is not thrilled that NASCAR will not alter the rules for next weekend’s race at Daytona International Speedway after three cars got airborne at Talladega Superspeedway in the most recent restrictor-plate race.
“I was certainly hoping that we would see something coming off the race that we saw at Talladega,’’ Busch told reporters Friday at Sonoma Raceway. “It wasn’t probably, ‘A,’ very exciting racing and ‘B,’ pretty dangerous for all of us drivers in having three cars go airborne in that event and Danica Patrick having a heavy, heavy hit on the inside wall – real reminiscent to my hit at Daytona. No rule changes is not a welcoming site for me, but it is what it is. We’ll go and crash some more.”
Chris Buescher, Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick got up in the air during the May 1 race. None was injured. Patrick’s car slammed into the inside wall. She climbed from her car and was treated and released from the infield care center.
“NASCAR is always looking at liftoff (speeds),’’ Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, told NBC Sports. “It’s important again to go back to each incident being unique. Where we’re most concerned is where a car gets airborne on its own. That’s very rare. If you look at Talladega and (Kenseth’s) car that happened. The others are really a result of what we call “ramping up” in terms of Austin Dillon getting into another car and getting airborne (at Daytona in July 2015 after contact with another car), which happened twice at Talladega as well.
“It’s inherent in racing, and it can happen really at any racetrack we’re at. It’s not something we like to see, but where we’re really focused is a car on its own getting sideways, getting up in the air. Still a rare occurrence, but any occurrence is more than we’d like to see, so we’re constantly focused on that.’’
Six-time champion Jimmie Johnson is comfortable with no rule changes for next week because of the differences between Daytona and Talladega.
“I know following Talladega there were a lot of suggestions made,’’ Johnson said Friday at Sonoma. “I certainly had some opinions of why passing was as difficult as it was and the energy that it created in the pack and the need to kind of bump-draft and slam-draft and then crash, like that whole process that took place.
“I know that they don’t want to overreact, and we’re going to a different track in Daytona that works a little bit differently than Talladega does. So, I feel comfortable with it. I think, ideally, we would love to have the side draft be less impactful. We’d love to have a push from another car be more beneficial. And with the gear and horsepower reduction, I think that took away some of that offensive opportunity that existed. But, we’ll see how Daytona races and take it from there. I know that there’s another Driver Council meeting down in Daytona. It will probably be top of mind for everybody then.”