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.
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?