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.”

Steve Torrence takes NHRA points lead with Gatornationals victory

NHRA Gainesville Steve Torrence
Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence took the points lead Sunday in the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, beating his father, Billy, in the final round at Gainesville Raceway.

Torrence had a 3.809-second run at 322.11 mph to win for the third time this year and 39th overall. He is now on track for another championship despite missing the season opener.

“We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, it’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” Steve Torrence said after the NHRA Gainesville victory. “We’ve just got to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Alex Laughlin in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps raced to his second win this year and 66th overall, beating Tim Wilkerson with a 3.937 at 323.12 in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Laughlin topped Aaron Stanfield with a 7.068 at 204.76 in a Chevrolet Camaro for his first win this season and fourth in his career. Smith rode to his first victory in 2020 and 25th overall, topping Andrew Hines with a 6.843 at 196.99 on an EBR.