Two N.Y. dirt tracks mandate all drivers must stay in cars after on-track incidents

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A common question that has been asked by many in the aftermath of Saturday’s Tony Stewart/Kevin Ward Jr. incident is if it could have been prevented.

After Ward spun out at Canadaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park on Saturday night following a wheel-to-wheel battle with Stewart, an angry Ward exited his car and walked down the racing surface to show his displeasure with the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.

Sadly, Stewart’s car ended up striking Ward, who was transported to a local hospital and pronounced dead on arrival. The 20-year-old will be laid to rest on Thursday.

Now, in a likely response to the tragedy, two New York dirt tracks have adopted an immediate rule change that mandates all drivers must stay in their cars in the event of on-track incidents.

As part of the change, the 3/8-mile Fulton (N.Y.) Speedway and 1/3-mile Brewerton (N.Y.) Speedway now decree that only safety and wrecker crews are allowed on their tracks in the event of an accident.

Additionally, should a driver leave their car on the track during a caution period for any reason, the race will be immediately red-flagged and all cars will come to a stop.

Drivers will be allowed to exit the car if they are requested to do so by a safety crew member or in cases of emergency such as a fire.

However, if drivers leave their cars without permission for any reason, they’ll be subject to fines and/or suspensions at the discretion of track management.

Some have wondered if the Stewart/Ward incident will be enough to compel tracks and series across the country to implement rules such as these to further protect their drivers.

It will bear watching if other organizations follow the lead of the Fulton and Brewerton Speedways. And if they do, how widespread and how quick will such a movement be?

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.”