Just over a week removed from one of the most frightening crashes NASCAR has seen in quite some time, it looked to be a disaster again Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Nearly mirroring what had occurred at Daytona International Speedway in the season opening NASCAR XFINITY race, another Cup star was sent careening into an unprotected wall. The outcome however was a much happier one.
The controversy started last Saturday at Daytona when Kyle Busch was sent rocketing into a concrete wall. In the resulting crash Busch broke his right leg and left foot. He was released from a Charlotte hospital this week after his second surgery and is out indefinitely. The crash created a storm of controversy as the wall where Busch crashed lacked the protective SAFER barriers the energy absorbing walls that are installed at many walls at most tracks.
Led by Daytona, many NASCAR tracks this week stepped up with pledges to install more SAFER barriers at their facilities. Atlanta Motor Speedway pledged more SAFER barriers, however did not have time prior to this weekend’s visit by NASCAR. It did add an additional 130 feet of protective barrier and the wall at the exit of pit road was extended. In addition, a tire barrier was added along the inside wall of Turn four. As It turned out, it wasn’t enough.
On lap 256 of 325 Sunday driver Denny Hamlin’s Toyota spun exiting turn 2 collecting several other cars. Among them was Jeff Gordon in his last NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta. Gordon’s Chevy was sent towards the inside wall along the backstretch hitting the wall at a point where there was nothing but a concrete wall. Gordon climbed from his destroyed machine afterwards and could be seen point towards the wall he had just hit.
“I saw the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) going sideways,” Gordon said shortly after. MORE>>