Saturday, May 16, 2009

This Time I Agree With Bruton

Speedway Motorsports Chairman Bruton Smith called for the standardizing of catch fences at all NASCAR tracks earlier this month. And after Friday night's Camping World truck race, I've got to agree with him.

In addition to the near catastrophic finish at Talladega, which ended relatively well all things considered, we've now seen a second situation this season in which a strong enough and high enough catch fence did its job.

Mike Skinner's #5 truck spun out at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Friday and hit the inside wall, which happens often enough. But then he careened up the track at breakneck speed and before you could say "holy crap," was clobbered by an unwitting TJ Bell and sent on a little flight into the safer barrier and fence. Bouncing back onto the track, his truck landed on its side and slid for a good many yards catching fire in the process. Fortunately, he and his truck came to rest right-side-up and Skinner walked away unscathed. His car, on the other hand, was driven away on the back of a flatbed, looking like the sorriest loser of a demolition derby.

Skinner's rough and tumble ride at Charlotte, combined with the slow-mo replays of Edwards' #99 car literally being caught and then deflected by the cabled fence at 'Dega, is enough to make you want to write a note of personal thanks to catch fence manufacturers.

But it should also be enough to prod NASCAR to institute some sort of standard. After all, who's monitoring those tracks that may not keep their fences in such good repair? What about the tracks whose fences are too low?

Says Smith, as quoted by ESPN NASCAR writer David Newton, "Let's fix it because the sport is at risk. Cables [that provide strength to the fence] are just like fishing lines. You have a certain test lines. Cables can be like a quarter inch and have a 90,000 PSI [pounds per square inch]."

"That's the things we need to do at all these speedways to make sure we have the strongest there is ... You've got to do your homework and make sure you have the tensile strength in those cables."

Like I said, I've got to agree with Bruton on this one. Rather than dumb down the racing at these fast and furious tracks, let's just be sure the fans and their favorite drivers are the safest they can be.

Photo by David Griffin NASCAR Scene

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