NASCAR drivers angry over concussion in new car

NASCAR drivers are furious and concerned about their safety in new next-generation cars as qualifying tumbles on one of the most chaotic and dangerous tracks on the track.

Alex Bowman will miss Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway after being diagnosed with a concussion four days after his crash. Bowman hit the wall early at Texas Motor Speedway, but finished Sunday’s race despite sending his Hendrick Motorsports crew: “I can’t drive the rest of the day.”

“I don’t understand how (the car) is still rolling. This is the hardest I’ve hit in my entire life,” Bowman added.

Now he is on the sidelines alongside Kurt Bosch, who will miss his 11th race in a row due to a concussion. He crashed in July during a qualifying round when he rolled his car into a wall. Bosch said his vision and balance are not 100% but he is hoping to race again this season.

Complaints about Next Generation – presented this season as a cost-saving and way to achieve some grid parity – have reached a critical level after four tough races and three injured drivers. Cody Shane Weir will be racing on Sunday despite a broken foot he sustained in a difficult crash.

Drivers amplified their complaints as soon as they learned of Bowman’s concussion. They’ve been worried since an exaggerated story surfaced about the ill-fated next-generation NASCAR crash test at Talladega in 2021. The rumor was that the crash test dummy suffered a force in the crash that would have killed a human.

“It is completely unacceptable that officials are letting things get to this point,” Kevin Harvick wrote on Twitter. He said he remembered Denny Hamlin insisting that “the car was too stiff. The data didn’t agree. It’s time to listen to the drivers crashing them!”

Hamlin, who was heard moaning on his radio after a difficult accident last month, also directed his anger at NASCAR.

“It is disappointing that our sanctioning body refuses to acknowledge or accept any responsibility for driver injury,” Hamlin wrote. “It’s the same as what they said. We knew better. It’s wrong that the system continues to take advantage of these drivers.”

The next generation was an industry-wide collaboration to develop a vehicle with specifications that would cut costs and equalize the competition. But part of the cost-cutting has come in designing a durable car that can withstand bumps without being destroyed, a move to reduce the fleet sizes needed to compete for an entire season.

So the next generation is very stiff and the bits and pieces that flew out of the car during collision are tightly knit, causing drivers to absorb more energy from collisions.

NASCAR tries to address issues with the next generation as they arise. There were a series of problems with the car during the first four races – in the elimination race in Bristol, 12 of the 16 drivers in the playoffs had some sort of problem – from unexplained fires to failing tires and parts, and now relentless nature. The car is already affecting drivers.

After the fires during the opening game in Darlington, Vice President of Competition Scott Miller said it was “unacceptable” and NASCAR quickly ordered design changes. The series is also considering monitoring pressure levels to determine if drivers are inflating tires because their teams are too aggressive with the settings.

Andy Petrie, vice president of competition at Richard Childress Racing, said NASCAR has been receptive to feedback.

“I think NASCAR does a good job of taking the input, and listening to what we have to say as an industry. I don’t know about drivers, they might not get the response they feel they need about these things,” Petrie said. “But NASCAR is working on the car. I’ve seen some future design changes that address some of the things drivers say about impacts.”

Harvick said Petrie’s comment was “very telling to anyone who has a say in these operations. NASCAR and the teams.” He also urged NASCAR to speed up its investigation of cases.

Talladega is one of the most chaotic tracks on the NASCAR schedule due to its tight beam race and high speeds. The pole’s winning speed in April was 180.93 mph and topped out at 200 mph (321.9 kph) when the cars are in draft.

The spring race was tamed by Talladega standards with only four crash alerts and the race finished under the green with no further time required. But Sunday is the middle race in the second round of qualifying and the stakes are much higher. In addition, the first four races were won by drivers who do not compete for the championship.

PLANE CREW . suspension system

Team Penske has dropped its appeal against the four-wheel suspension of three Ryan Blaney crew members, who were suspended because a left wheel rolled off Blaney’s Ford in Bristol.

The trio of crew chief Jonathan Hasler, Jackman Graham Stoddard and rear tire changer Zachary Price all worked out last week in Texas where Pinske filed an appeal. Penske dropped the appeal this week and Blaney goes to Talladega on Sunday who is fourth in the standings.

Field 12 will be reduced to eight after next week’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Blaney will be without his regular crew members in Talladega, Charlotte, Las Vegas and Homestead. Now dropping the appeal, Team Penske are hoping Blaney will advance to the next round and have Hassler regain for the last two races of the season still qualifying for the championship.

Longtime Penske engineer Miles Stanley will be Blaney’s interim crew chief. He will also get crew members from The Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford to help dig up Blaney’s car.

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Rodney Childers started the race to become a famous driver. When she didn’t get behind the wheel, Childers moved onto the technical side of the sport and began climbing into a major crew role.

He goes to Talladega on Sunday to enter the crew chief in his 600th race. Childers has been paired with Kevin Harvick since 2014 at Stewart-Haas Racing in the longest active pairing in the Cup Series garage. Childers ran Team Harvick in 313 races, placing eighth on the all-time pairs list.

“I think everyone knows my career definitely changed when Kevin wanted me to do it, and to be able to do that for so long and win so many races was very special,” Childers said.

Childers led Harvick to his only cup championship in 2014, their first season together on SHR.


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