Ryan Newman says he’d add Wednesday night races to Sprint Cup calendar

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Earlier this week, NASCAR CEO Brian France indicated that any changes made to the 2015 Sprint Cup Series schedule would be small ones.

“There’s not going to be a dramatic change, but there may be some things that are a little different,” France said to SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (to whom he also shared his thoughts regarding the Race Team Alliance).

But if Ryan Newman had his way, there would indeed be a dramatic change – Wednesday night Sprint Cup races.

“I think just realigning it and giving us the opportunity to be on TV and be our own special event on a Wednesday night, especially during football season, would be good for our sport,” said Newman, who also declared that he’d put in more off-weekends and shift the other Cup races to Saturday night and sometimes Sunday afternoons.

Newman later elaborated on the subject further, noting that his Wednesday events would have practice, qualifying and the race itself on that same day.

“Obviously, if you go to a place like Pocono and it rains, like, three-quarters of that day, it changes everything – then you have Thursday to work with,” he said.

“But for situations like that, I think you’d have the crew guys come in on a Tuesday afternoon, let them tech the cars in whatever [time] window it is. Let the guys go back and have a decent dinner with their team, then start practice the next morning – practice, qualify and race.

“You’ve got the people in the grandstands for an entire day of activities and they can sell hot dogs and all the other things that way.”

The Wednesday format appears to be working very well for the Camping World Truck Series’ event at Eldora Speedway, which met with more rave reviews after its second running (won by Darrell Wallace Jr.).

Leading up to the 150-lap Mudsummer Classic feature, the Trucks were pretty much on track throughout the day at Eldora with practice, pole qualifying, five 10-lap qualifying heat races, and a 15-lap Last Chance Qualifier.

But while Newman’s idea on Wednesday night Sprint Cup races is intriguing, one wonders if those would be better off at this part of the year, when the competition from other sports would be light.

A Wednesday night Cup race in the fall would dodge a head-to-head battle on the weekend with football, but depending on the date, it’d have to fight the MLB post-season and the start of the NBA and NHL regular seasons for attention.

However, a mid-week race would definitely provide a new wrinkle to a Sprint Cup schedule that has largely remained the same for some time now outside of intermittent date swaps.

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

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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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