Aftermath of violent Talladega wreckage ‘troubling’
DOVER, Del. (AP) — Kyle Larson has survived near-death experiences on the track in all types of racing series.
Even by those harrowing standards, the 2021 NASCAR Champion still found the aftermath of Ryan Preece’s full-contact hit last week in Talladega “disturbing.”
It twisted and blew up the support bars in the roll cage of Larson’s Chevrolet. Kyle Busch likened the wreck to “a brick being rammed into a stick of butter”.
Larson walked away. So does Preece. Both drivers are in good health and ready to return to racing at Dover Motor Speedway on Sunday.
Larson, who drives for Hendrick Motorsports, was thankful the wreck wasn’t worse. The next-generation car is entering its second NASCAR season, and the organization is still making necessary changes to improve safety in an inherently dangerous sport.
“You see things that could have easily gotten me in the car, whether it was the bars that broke off completely and could have peeled me,” Larson said Saturday. “Or what if I had a second impact? I’m not knocking “Nascar at all. They worked really hard on this car to make it safer. I’m very grateful that they took both my car and Preece’s car to dig deeper and see how they still do it.” can make it safer.” .”
NASCAR’s ongoing investigation includes recreating the accident through computer-aided designs and reviewing film from the in-car camera.
“It’s pretty clear that changes need to be made,” said reigning NASCAR Champion Joey Logano. “I don’t know how to fix it.”
Logano and Busch were among several drivers who wondered if the accident might have been fatal had Larson been hit in the driver’s door.
NASCAR said Saturday the driver’s side construction is “several times stronger than the right.”
“In my opinion, there is no other racing sport that takes safety more seriously than they do,” Larson said of NASCAR. “But that doesn’t mean the sport is safe.”
At Talladega, Ross Chastain pushed his car to center for a third lane and his car rebounded from Noah Gragson, who hit the wall to set off the crash. Larson was thrown into the grass and his car shot back into the middle of traffic and was hit by Preece. Preece’s helmet visor ripped open with the hit.
“It was probably one of the hardest hits I’ve ever taken in a race car, and I hit concrete walls with the throttle bodies hanging up, concrete walls with dirt behind them,” said Preece.
Race safety was a hot topic again at Dover after the Talladega wreck and with Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman suffered a fractured vertebra in a Sprint car accident this week. Last year, Kurt Busch had to retire after falling in qualifying in July due to a concussion and Alex Bowman missed five races with a concussion after being hit in Texas in September.
“I think people assume there’s a much higher chance of getting injured in a sprint car,” Larson said. “I’d like to see the data that would prove that, because I don’t see it that way. We’ve got drivers out with concussions, we’ve got drivers with broken bones, I broke bones in a cup car.”
A year after the cup race in Dover was postponed to a Monday, the weather again caused another change of plan: Saturday’s qualifying rained.
Kyle Busch will start on pole with Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell joining him on the front row. Ford drivers benefited from the rain with Ryan Blaney starting third followed by Brad Keselowski, Chris Buescher and Chase Briscoe.
Heavy rain is forecast for Sunday and NASCAR has raised the green flag by an hour to 1:11 p.m. EDT
BITS AND PIECES
Larson is a 5-1 favorite to win on Sunday, per FanDuel sports betting. … Keselowski hit 158.660 mph on the concrete mile course to top the morning’s lonely practice session. Larson and Byron followed on the map.
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