Podcast: Kyle Petty on wounds being reopened by Ryan Newman’s crash

Leave a comment

Kyle Petty had a hard time getting to sleep Monday night.

That was partly because of the uncertainty surrounding Ryan Newman’s condition after the terrifying last-lap wreck in the Daytona 500.

But it also was because of the dark memories it dredged up for the NASCAR on NBC analyst, whose son, Adam, was killed in a May 12, 2000 crash at New Hampshire Motor Speedway – one of four fatalities during a nine-month period culminating in Dale Earnhardt’s death in the 2001 Daytona 500.

“Look at pictures of Adam’s accident between at New Hampshire, if you look at Earnhardt’s, so many, many people gathered, but nothing going on is what it looks like,” Petty said on the latest NASCAR on NBC Podcast, comparing those crash scenes with the response to Newman’s wreck. “All of a sudden, 20 years of having that in a box, someone ripped the top off the box, and you can see right down in it again.

OVERTIME STAYS: NASCAR won’t adjust rule at superspeedways after crash

“So for me, it was very emotional. I didn’t sleep much Monday night, honestly. Worried about Ryan, praying for Ryan. But at the same time so many emotions that I thought that time was supposed to heal those wounds. That wound is right there. It’s just under the surface. So it was a tough day or so.”

Petty’s anxiety subsided Tuesday with the news that Newman was alert and talking. The Roush Fenway Racing driver walked out of Halifax Medical Center with his daughters Wednesday afternoon. He is being replaced this weekend by Ross Chastain in the No. 6 Ford at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and no timetable has been provided for his return.

NASCAR hasn’t had a fatality in a national series since Earnhardt’s on Feb. 18, 2001, and Petty openly wondered during the podcast about a youthful generation of budding Cup stars who have yet to experience what it’s like when a peer perishes in a crash.

“When the last fatality happened in a NASCAR upper division, they were in kindergarten or first grade,” Petty said. “So they’ve never seen anything like this. I grew up where you go to the racetrack and you’re playing with a bunch of kids, and their mom comes and gets them, and you never see those kids again. When Friday Hassler got killed at Daytona (in 1972), I never saw his kids again. Have run into them since but never saw them again at a racetrack.

“So many times, you’d go to the racetrack, and a crew member would be killed. A driver would be killed. Whether it was in a qualifying race, practice at Daytona. It was just there. You got used to it. This is an exaggeration, but it’s almost like you’re in a war zone. You just become numb to it. Now we don’t understand it because we don’t see it. We don’t know how to react to it. When we do see something, everyone turns it into a joke, and we laugh it off. … The sport has gotten to a point that it’s incredibly safe, as safe as it’s ever been. But it’s never going to be foolproof safe.”

Since Earnhardt’s crash, NASCAR has mandated the HANS device, SAFER barriers and numerous other safety elements in the car and cockpit. While it’s decreased the danger Petty also worries if it’s led to a false sense of security.

“We just got complacent to the fact that auto racing can be a dangerous sport,” he said. “Now the element of danger has decreased, but it’s always that deep water, flowing really fast, and at the bottom of that well, there’s death.”

During the podcast, Petty also discussed:

–His thoughts on “slam drafting” on superspeedways and how it should be addressed;

–Reacting to Corey LaJoie’s recent comments that no changes need to be made;

–How a driver such as Newman rebounds after such a vicious wreck;

–The laudable way in which Denny Hamlin captured his third Daytona 500 victory.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the embed above, or via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get your podcasts.

There also is a video version of the podcast available at the Motorsports on NBC channel on YouTube.

NBC eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge to debut Monday

Photo: NASCAR
Leave a comment

Reigning Cup champion Kyle Busch, three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin and NASCAR on NBC analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr. are among the headliners in the NASCAR America presents the NBC eSports Short Track Challenge.

The week-long event begins at 7 p.m. ET on Monday on NBCSN.

From Monday-Wednesday, six different drivers will compete in two timed races in Cup Series cars at an iconic track at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN. The top two finishers from each night will advance to the championship race at the virtual Martinsville Speedway on NBCSN.

Monday night’s races will be at a virtual Rockingham Speedway

Tuesday night’s races will be at a virtual Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.

Wednesday night’s races will be at a virtual Myrtle Beach Speedway.

Thursday night’s championship race will be at a virtual Martinsville Speedway.

Here is the driver lineup for each night:

Monday at Rockingham Speedway: Kyle Busch, William Byron, Austin Dillon, Parker Kligerman, Tyler Reddick and Bubba Wallace.

Tuesday at Lucas Oil Raceway: Justin Allgaier, Christopher Bell, Chase Briscoe, Harrison Burton, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson.

Wednesday at Myrtle Beach Speedway: Landon Cassill, Matt DiBenedetto, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Timmy Hill, Ryan Preece and Myatt Snider.

“We’re proud to continue our successful collaboration with iRacing and NASCAR, which began last year, to produce the NBC eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge,” said Jeff Behnke, vice president, production, NASCAR on NBC and NBCSN. “Thanks to all the drivers from the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series for joining in what should be four consecutive nights of entertainment and fun for all the great race fans and viewers.”

“Of all of the events we’ve been putting together for real-world pros, the NBC eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge should be one of the most fun,” said Steve Myers, iRacing executive producer. “So many of the top drivers in NASCAR have honed their skills on both local short tracks and iRacing, and combining the two for a virtual week-long showdown should deliver plenty of excitement. We can’t wait to see who takes the checkered flag and bragging rights!”

This marks the latest collaboration between NBC Sports and iRacing, which began in 2019 when NBC Sports telecast the first-ever eNASCAR live event on television. NBC Sports and iRacing teamed up to present the 2019 eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Championship in a two-hour event live on NBCSN last October. Earlier this year, it was announced that six races of the 2020 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Playoffs will air live on NBCSN later this fall.

NBC Sports NASCAR commentators Rick Allen and Steve Letarte will call the action, including interviews with drivers during the races. Jeff Burton and Marty Snider will host the NBC eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge via Zoom.

April 2 in NASCAR history: Dale Jr. gets first Cup win in Texas

Leave a comment

One day late in matching his father’s own achievement 21 years earlier, Dale Earnhardt Jr. began etching his name in the history of the Cup Series on April 2, 2000 with his first career win.

The victory came at Texas Motor Speedway, the same track the third-generation driver earned his first Xfinity Series win at two years earlier.

Earnhardt led 106 of 334 laps and beat Jeff Burton to score the victory in just his 12th career start, four races sooner than his father’s first win in 1979. The victory also was the first for Dale Earnhardt Inc. in the Cup Series.

“I’ll tell you what, that was the hardest race I’ve ever drove,” Earnhardt told CBS in Victory Lane. “Had the flu all day long, all week long, felt pretty good. Once the race started, we had a good race car and I was pretty happy.”

Earnhardt’s victory was the last time a Cup Series driver earned their first career win at Texas Motor Speedway.

Also on this date:

1967: Driving for the Wood Brothers, Cale Yarborough led 301 of 334 laps at Atlanta to earn his second Cup win and his first on a speedway.

1978: Darrell Waltrip beat John Utsman (relief driver for Benny Parsons) by one lap to earn his first of a record 12 career Cup wins at Bristol Motor Speedway.

1989: Harry Gant ended a 90-race winless streak with a dominant win at Darlington. He led 171 of the last 180 laps to beat Davey Allison and Geoff Bodine. The race was plagued by a 19-lap caution at one point in order to correct a scoring error that gave Gant a one-lap lead on the field.

1995: Jeff Gordon earns his first of four consecutive wins in the Food City 500 at Bristol. It was his third win in the first six races of the season, as Gordon would go on to claim his first Cup Series championship.

Kevin Harvick, Tony Kanaan discuss IndyCar-NASCAR doubleheader

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Over a 22-year IndyCar career featuring its share of adversity, Tony Kanaan has learned to embrace trying to find the positives in a negative situation.

He believes NASCAR and IndyCar will find a tiny silver lining from the novel coronavirus pandemic. The series will race on the same day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course in a July 4 doubleheader, which he believes sends a message of unity he’d like to see from the world during this dark period.

“It’s time to send that message (of unity),” Kanaan told “Happy Hours” hosts Kevin Harvick and Matt Yocum in a Wednesday afternoon interview on SiriusXM’s NASCAR Channel. “If we don’t come out of this situation as better people, globally, in every way, shape or form … it’s just being kind to people. Hopefully, we’ll be sending the right messages, doing radio shows together, doing live on Instagram together, doing races together.”

Click here to read the entire story on NBCSports.com’s MotorSportsTalk page.

How NASCAR and racing community are helping in COVID-19 fight

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Given the emphasis on safety in racing, NASCAR and several other motorsports entities are increasingly pivoting to focus on safety in other areas to help out during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The biggest emphasis is on personal protective equipment for health care workers as well as things such as respirators for those infected with coronavirus.

According to a report by The Associated Press, here are what several groups across NASCAR and other motorsports series are doing:

* NASCAR’s Research and Technology Center in Concord, North Carolina has shifted from building parts and working on the Next Gen car to producing face shields.

According to the AP report, NASCAR has a team of eight engineers volunteering their time to keep five 3D printers operating nearly 18 hours per day to produce protective face shields for health care workers. The largest printer is capable of producing three shields every 2 ½ hours.

“That’s the one we try to keep running almost nonstop,” Eric Jacuzzi, senior director of NASCAR’s aerodynamics and vehicle performance, told the AP. “You are sitting around watching the news and you think, ‘We just put this big, beautiful new machine in, let’s see what we can do and use it for something good.’”

NASCAR is donating all shields it produces to health care facilities and workers. It is also working with North Carolina State University as consultants to help hospitals with their own 3D printers to produce personal protective equipment, according to the AP report.

* Ford is embarking this week on a project to build as many as 50,000 ventilators in the next 100 days, according to the AP. The company has also lent a team of engineers and is providing facilities and equipment to help 3M build respirators.

Todd Hoevener, Ford Director of Technology, Strategy and Planning, told SiriusXM NASCAR on the “Happy Hours” program Wednesday afternoon, “This week we are ramping up to be able to ship one million (face shields) by the end of the week.”

* Chevrolet’s parent company, General Motors, is working with Ventic Life Systems to produce more than 50,000 face masks daily, as well as is ramping up production to build 10,000 ventilators per month, according to the AP.

* Toyota is also producing face shields and working to manufacturer ventilators, as well, according to the AP.

* NASCAR Cup driver Brad Keselowski’s company, Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing, is using 3D printers and CNC machines to build face shields.

* Roush Fenway Racing has donated 1.5 cases of N95 masks to Lake Norman Regional Medical Center and donated shields and safety glasses elsewhere. The team told the AP it is producing aerosol boxes that “protect medical professionals as they treat COVID-19 patients.” In addition, parent company Roush Industries is working on developing other personal protective equipment.

* Hendrick Motorsports has redirected some of its manufacturing resources to produce face shields for healthcare workers. Other NASCAR teams that have donated masks or other supplies include Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and JR Motorsports.

* IMSA team CORE Autosport told the AP it has produced and sold several thousand face masks for health care professionals.

* Technique Inc., which produces chassis kits for NASCAR teams, has repurposed its Jackson, Michigan factory – just a few miles from Michigan International Speedway – and expects to increase production to 20,000 face shields by the end of this week, according to the AP.

* The largest team in NHRA drag racing, Don Schumacher Racing, is using its two 3D printers non-stop to build headbands that attach to face shields, the AP reported.

Follow @JerryBonkowski