Rough situation for 35, 77 Cup teams after Bristol DNQ

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Rare is it that there’s really much attention paid to cars that fail to qualify for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. But when two teams have had such rough starts to the season, it’s at this point you can’t not feel some sympathy.

Front Row Motorsports’ third car, the No. 35 Ford, has gone through three drivers in four races, but only has made the field once. Eric McClure missed the Daytona 500 and Blake Koch only went one-for-two in his two outings.

Now today, David Reutimann, a past Cup Series winner, couldn’t get the car in the show at Bristol. Reutimann’s time of 15.154 seconds, 126.620, wasn’t slowest by any stretch but was exactly one one-thousandth of a second slower than Danica Patrick in 36th (15.153) of the first round of knockout qualifying.

Factor in seven provisionals utilized to those higher up in owner points, and Reutimann’s MDS Transport-backed car went home.

The car is in this tenuous situation because it wasn’t particularly high up in the 2013 owner points, and Josh Wise left in the offseason. That’s already three of a possible four races that car has lost out on additional prize money to help support FRM’s two other full-season cars, driven by David Ragan and David Gilliland.

Randy Humphrey’s No. 77 Ford, meanwhile, is now an imperfect 0-for-4 making the field with new driver Dave Blaney. The team’s Daytona practice accident destroyed the primary car and has now had a hangover effect for the following three races.

Blaney was two tenths off Reutimann’s time in the first round so was left further out of a shot to make the field.

For the team and crew sake, here’s to hoping they can make the show soon as the 2014 season begins to roll into a rhythm.

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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