Joey Logano sets Michigan track record in pole run

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For the 13th time this season, a NASCAR qualifying track record has gone down – this time, at the hands of Joey Logano, whose lap today at 203.949 miles per hour in the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford was enough to claim pole for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Logano was one of three drivers to eclipse the previous MIS qualifying record of 203.241 miles per hour, set in June of 2012 by Marcos Ambrose (203.241 mph).

His lap was also the ninth-quickest pole lap in Sprint Cup Series history, but a mere 44 one-thousandths of a second ahead of Kurt Busch, who turned in a lap at 203.695 miles per hour in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet to claim his sixth front-row start of the year.

Behind them in Row 2 will be championship leader Jimmie Johnson (203.470) and Mark Martin, while Jeff Burton (203.114) and the soon-to-be free agent Juan Pablo Montoya (202.988) make up Row 3.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Michigan native Brad Keselowski, and last week’s winner, Kyle Busch, round out the Top 10 on Sunday’s grid. As for other notables, Greg Biffle – who won at MIS this past June – will roll off 16th, while Austin Dillon will start 27th as he fills in for the injured Tony Stewart. Danica Patrick will start 28th.

Scott Riggs was the only driver that failed to qualify this afternoon.

New study surveys drivers’ opinions on crashes, concussions, more

James Black/IndyCar
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Auto racing safety has continued to improve through the decades, but the sport remains inherently dangerous, according to a new survey.

At the close of 2018, a new organization called Racing Safety United emerged with the intention of reducing drivers’ risk of being harmed.

RSU is made up of more than 30 members including former NASCAR Cup Series competitor Jerry Nadeau, two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie, NHRA team owner Don Schumacher and motorsports journalist Dick Berggren.

One of RSU’s first initiatives was to determine what current drivers thought of racing safety. The organization developed a 14-question survey and promoted it on select motorsports websites and forums. 

Participants were given the opportunity to disclose their identity or remain anonymous, and those who provided contact information were entered to win a $500 prize (for anonymous participants, the prize funds would be donated to a motorsports charity). 

More than 140 individuals participated in the survey over the course of 12 months. Below are the results of the survey:

Driver status

The vast majority of survey participants (60%) were amateur racers, while 26% of the participants were classified as Semi-Pro/Professional racers. The remaining 14% consisted of other individuals involved in the sport such as team owners and crew chiefs. 

When asked how frequently they race, 58% of driver respondents averaged 10 or more times per year on track, while 42% averaged 10 times or less.

The top five tracks respondents said they raced most often: Road Atlanta (21 votes), Watkins Glen (17 votes), Virginia International Raceway (16 votes), Mid-Ohio (16 votes), and Road America (13 votes).

Vehicular damage, injuries common

Over a third of respondents said they had been injured while racing, and almost two-thirds sasid they had suffered severe vehicle damage while racing

Driver error was cited as the top cause of vehicle damage (42 mentions), followed by concrete walls (26 mentions), mechanical failures (24 mentions), and other drivers (19 mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for better driver training/coaching, energy absorbing walls, and more technical inspections.

Almost a quarter of drivers said they had experienced racing-related concussions, and nearly half the respondents said one or multiple concussions would affect their decision to race in the future. 

Drivers primarily influenced by peers 

Roughly half the drivers said they would consider adopting new safety equipment if influenced by another driver (51 total mentions) and/or if recommended by a sanctioning body (47 total mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for drivers to become safety advocates and educate other drivers and for sanctioning bodies to mandate safety equipment. 

Drivers concerned with concrete walls

Approximately three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said they believed certain race tracks were more dangerous than others. Nearly half the drivers surveyed believe that concrete walls were the primary cause of damage to drivers and vehicles. 

Drivers willing to help

Just more than three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said that they would be willing to join a safety alliance to advocate for safer tracks. Two-thirds of drivers said that they also would be willing to contribute to a motorsports safety fund.

Click here for the full results of RSU’s survey

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