NASCAR to mandate baseline concussion testing starting next year

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This morning, NASCAR announced that starting in 2014, the sanctioning body will mandate pre-season baseline concussion testing for all of its national series drivers.

The testing will be performed through the ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) test, which focuses on evaluating verbal and visual memory, processing speed, and reaction time.

As this testing will take place before the season starts, doctors will be able to compare the baseline with post-concussion tests as they evaluate injuries and determine the proper time for a driver to return to racing.

“NASCAR made this decision because we think it is important to drivers’ health for doctors to have the best information and tools available in evaluating injuries,” NASCAR vice president of racing Steve O’Donnell said in a statement.

“Before announcing this rule, we provided drivers concussion and baseline testing education and created opportunities for them to ask any questions they may have to a top neurosurgeon that specializes in traumatic brain injuries. Also, remember that ImPACT tests are not new to our sport and have been used for treatment through the years.”

Indeed, the test is currently being used by many teams in the NFL, NHL, and Major League Baseball, as well as by thousands of high schools and colleges.

NASCAR says that it recommended baseline testing for its drivers at the start of the 2013 season with the indication that this particular mandate could take effect as soon as next year. Additionally, the sanctioning body has held a pair of “concussion education sessions” for drivers.

“We are extremely confident that our concussion protocol is among the best in sports,” O’Donnell continued. “We regularly review all of our practices involving safety and health to see if there is anything that we can do better, or should do differently moving forward.

“Implementing baseline testing is a primary example of our philosophy to protect our competitors the best that we can.”

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”