Denny Hamlin’s 2013 season was altered severely when he slammed head-on into a part of Auto Club Speedway’s inside retaining wall that wasn’t covered by a SAFER barrier.
Hamlin sustained a fractured vertebrae in the incident, which occurred after he battled on the final lap with Joey Logano last spring at Fontana. He missed four full races and his hopes for the Chase were effectively scratched.
Today at ACS, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver said that it was time for more tracks to adopt the SAFER technology, echoing the comments made by Kevin Harvick earlier this month during the Phoenix weekend (Harvick crashed into an uncovered inside retaining wall during the previous week’s Daytona 500).
“Anywhere that we have a concrete wall should be covered by SAFER barrier,” he said. “There’s a lot of race tracks where you look at the map from the sky and my particular team has highlighted where there is no SAFER barrier at a lot of mile-and-a-half [tracks]. Eighty percent of the inside walls are not covered at all.
“Even though this is a small section that they have here at this track, it’s not just about this one. It’s about many, many other mile-and-a-half [tracks] – they have to improve on getting SAFER barriers where they should be. It could save someone one day. It should be at the highest priority.”
The good news is that Hamlin is feeling much better after having a full offseason to truly recover from the wreck.
“Physically, I feel really good, actually – the best I’ve felt back-wise in a really long time. I mean years and years,” he said. “I’m better than I was before the wreck, for sure.
“I had issues – degenerating disc issues that have plagued me for a long time and the wreck obviously made that a lot worse. I’ve found things that help me through that now and I hate to knock on wood and say cured me, but it’s really helped a lot. I’m past that part.”
Hamlin qualified 13th today for Sunday’s Auto Club 400.
In the second edition of this week’s F1 on NBC Sports original digital series Paddock Pass, the Sahara Force India team reveals the VJM10 at the Silverstone Circuit in England, not far from the team’s headquarters.
Force India’s steady climb up the ladder has seen them rise to fourth place in the Constructor’s Championship, achieved last year.
NBCSN F1 pit reporter and insider Will Buxton checks in with drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, the latter of whom shifts to Force India after an impressive half season with Manor last year.
“It just looks amazing. It’s the first time I’ve been so excited looking at the car,” Perez told Buxton. “We have to adapt to a new driving style and see how physically demanding it is. It will be a big challenge for us.”
Otmar Szafnauer, COO of Sahara Force India, also offered his thoughts and expectations:
“The only way to hope to keep (the momentum) was to develop the 2017 car early. We don’t have the resources for parallel development,” Szafnauer told Buxton.
Stay tuned to the end of the video for a potential nugget about the testing lineup.
A link to Renault’s Paddock Pass from yesterday is here.
Further preseason content will come this week and into next on NBCSports.com.
Although Formula 1 testing doesn’t begin until Monday, several teams have filming days in advance at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona to gather preliminary material ahead of the new year.
The first up of those is Sauber F1 Team, which premiered its new C36 chassis on Monday and has now hit the Barcelona track for filming sessions. The Ferrari-powered car is the 25th in Sauber’s F1 history.
Marcus Ericsson took the initial shakedown with Pascal Wehrlein sidelined owing to his injuries sustained at the Race of Champions. Antonio Giovinazzi is set to fill in at the first test.
Sauber’s released a quick video of the test on its social channels and website, and is linked above.
Williams Martini Racing has confirmed who’s running when ahead of the two Barcelona tests, starting next week.
At the first test, Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll will alternate days, with Massa running days one and three and Stroll getting in for days two and four.
The second test will see the Canadian in the first two days before the Brazilian takes over the last two.
Stroll’s had testing in older Williams chassis, but this will mark his first running in the new FW40 chassis. Williams released renderings of the chassis last week.
Williams Martini Racing – Barcelona Test Schedule
February 27 – Felipe Massa
February 28 – Lance Stroll
March 1 – Felipe Massa
March 2 – Lance Stroll
March 7 – Lance Stroll
March 8 – Lance Stroll
March 9 – Felipe Massa
March 10 – Felipe Massa
The remaining assets from KV Racing Technology will be auctioned off on March 27 in a live and online auction put on by Key Auctioneers in Indianapolis.
Much of KV’s inventory has been sold to new Verizon IndyCar Series entrant Juncos Racing, which formally announced its arrival into the series on Tuesday. That includes three chassis, two full sets of pit equipment and one transporter, among other items per Trackside Online.
What’s left for KV of current equipment includes one of the Dallara DW12 chassis – it appears to be the chassis used by Stefan Wilson in last year’s Indianapolis 500 – dampers, drives, gears, lay shafts and more.
There’s also a bit of rolling stock, hospitality and other memorabilia available.
A full page of what’s available is linked here.
KV Racing was born out of the assets of the former PacWest Racing team (PWR Championship Racing in its final year of 2002), and launched as PK Racing in 2003.
Despite going through myriad name changes in the 14 years since, KV was still a fun part of the IndyCar fabric and thanks to Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser, a staple in the paddock. They never fully evolved into a championship-contending team but were an Indianapolis 500-winning entry.
With their demise, it left Dale Coyne Racing as the last of the Champ Car racing teams that switched over to IndyCar in 2008 still standing. But Juncos’ arrival as the ninth team gives new life to a new breed of team owners coming into the series and hopefully opens the door for more from here.
In the meantime, if you’re in Indianapolis and have the means or desire to get a piece of the KV history, March 27 represents that chance.