NASCAR looking at crossover gates after wreck

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Crossover gates will be a main focus of NASCAR’s investigation into improving fencing systems at their race tracks.

In the Feb. 23 Nationwide Series crash at Daytona International Speedway, the car of rookie Kyle Larson went into the air and slammed into the catch fence, sending pieces of debris into the grandstands. Larson’s impact was near a section where a gate connects the seating and the 2.5-mile track, and allows fans to access both areas.

“I think because of where [Larson’s car] came through and having pieces that did get through and it being a gate area, that’s really going to be the focus for us to look at,” NASCAR senior vice president Steve O’Donnell said to the Associated Press and the media at Phoenix International Raceway.

“We’re certainly going to look at fencing in general, but I think that particular area, that it was a gate, did impact it. We know the gate was locked, but does that provide as much stability as the rest of the fencing we believed it did? We’ve now got to look at that impact.”

O’Donnell also told the media that Larson’s shattered machine will be reconstructed at its research and development center in Concord, N.C., and that the sanctioning body will bring in outside experts such as SAFER Barrier developer Dean Sicking to look over possible fencing improvements.

At least 28 spectators were injured in the Feb. 23 incident at DIS. According to O’Donnell, all but two of the injured have been released from hospitals.

In yesterday’s Nationwide race at PIR, Larson finished 13th in his first event after the crash.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.