Days before the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series return to Daytona International Speedway, the “World Center of Racing” has added new SAFER Barriers.
According to the Daytona Beach News Journal, the new barriers have been installed from the exit of Turn 4 to the tri-oval and from the tri-oval to the entrance of Turn 1.
Altogether, the barriers are now along the outside wall from Turn 3 to the exit of Turn 2 at Daytona, plus the majority of inside retaining walls.
Multiple drivers, including Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick, have put pressure on tracks throughout NASCAR to install more of the energy-absorbing barriers.
Last May, Gordon declared that the barriers should be installed “everywhere” after he crashed into an unprotected portion of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s tri-oval wall during the 2013 Coca-Cola 600.
Then this past March, Kevin Harvick made a similar plea days after he crashed in the Daytona 500. Like Gordon’s Charlotte wreck, he hit an unprotected portion of wall – in his case, Daytona’s inside one.
Harvick particularly needled Daytona for its lack of barriers considering that it’s in the middle of their $400 million Daytona Rising renovation project.
He said at the time: “The tracks, for the most part, don’t listen to really anything unless it’s profitable for their shareholders. So, when you see somebody spending $400 million dollars on their track and they don’t have soft walls around the inside, maybe they could spend $403 million to go ahead and finish the inside of the superspeedway there at Daytona.”
Today, DIS spokesman Lenny Santiago told the News-Journal that the decision to install additional barriers came after a usual post-event sit-down with NASCAR.
“What we decided to do after consulting with NASCAR was install this [additional] SAFER barrier,” said Santiago. “This is Daytona and we want to make advances where we can.”
Additionally, Daytona has converted its former cross-over gates to a ramp-style design in order to have quicker foot traffic to and from the main grandstands.