Daytona, NASCAR To Review Crowd Safety After Weekend Crash


  • Daytona Crash Picture

    Daytona Crash Picture

    NASCAR will review catch-fence safety after spectators were injured during a crash at the Daytona International Speedway on Saturday. | February 25, 2013

Just the Facts:
  • NASCAR and officials of Daytona International Speedway will review catch-fence safety after a crash during Saturday's Nationwide Series left some 28 fans injured by flying debris.
  • IndyCar driver Dario Franchitti tweeted on Saturday night that changes needed to be made to catch-fence technology to improve safety.
  • Daytona Beach Police said that they will not be providing any further statements about the crash and that "any other information about the accidents needs to come from the Speedway."

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — Officials of Daytona International Speedway and NASCAR are engaged in an in-depth investigation after a crash during Saturday's Nationwide Series left some 28 fans injured by debris.

IndyCar driver Dario Franchitti tweeted on Saturday night that changes needed to be made to catch-fence technology to improve safety.

Daytona Beach Police said that they will not be providing any further statements about the crash and that "any other information about the accidents needs to come from the Speedway." The multi-car wreck occurred in the final thousand yards of the 300-mile race when leader Regan Smith tried to block Brad Keselowski's move to pass him. The cars tangled and spun and the tightly bunched pack following them piled up in chain reaction.

The car of rookie Kyle Larson spun and lifted into the air. It flew into the steel cable-reinforced catch-fence, which snagged the car and shredded it.

The engine was left embedded in the remnants of the fence, but a shower of debris — some of it of considerable size, including a wheel and tire with spindle and A-frame attached to it — rained down on the spectators.

Some observers believed that the wheel and tire assembly sailed over the 22-foot-tall fence, but replays of the incident were inconclusive.

The speedway reported that 14 people were treated on-site and another 14 were taken to area hospitals. Two people were originally listed as critical, but both were upgraded to stable by Sunday morning.

Although there were several crashes, there was no repeat of the incident during Sunday's 500 of an incident in which the debris fence was tested.

The Daytona track, which opened in 1959, has undergone numerous renovations in its history. But the front-row seats along the front straightaway, which has a sweeping, 18-degree-banked turn in the middle at the start-finish line, are within a dozen feet of the concrete retaining wall and the catch-fence which towers over it.

That puts a good many spectators in harm's way in the event of an incident like Saturday's crash, in which the car is restrained but parts of it are not.

Edmunds says: Reinforced fences have been standard equipment at tracks ever since an incident similar to this one in 1987 at Talladega (Alabama) Superspeedway, but the fences have continued to evolve over the years. Saturday's incident will in all likelihood trigger another stage of evolution.

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