Announcement of Edwards’ exit from Roush Fenway had some strange timing

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This Sunday morning at Indianapolis got a bit more distracting for Carl Edwards, crew chief Jimmy Fennig, and the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing team.

Hours away from one of the biggest NASCAR races of the year, Jack Roush revealed that Edwards would not be returning to the team next season. Instead, the Cat in the Hat will have Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Trevor Bayne in his 2015 stable.

We’ve known that Edwards leaving Roush at the end of 2014 was a distinct possibility, even as Edwards himself has constantly chosen to stay silent on the matter.

But while the announcement isn’t exactly a surprise, the timing most definitely is. In a brief interview with reporters that was captured by Fox Sports, Edwards tried to keep focus on today’s Brickyard 400 and the remainder of the 2014 campaign.

“Our mission is to go win this race today and the championship,” Edwards said. “From a competitive standpoint, that’s the key and so, that’s where I’m at today.”

“When it’s time to talk about [2015], I’ll tell you guys and we’ll do it,” he added before being hustled off to a pre-race sponsor function. But before he went away, Edwards said this:

“It is unfortunate that all of this is happening on a race day. Because that’s the number-one focus.”

Or rather, it should be the number-one focus – especially going into this particular race. Instead, Edwards is having to deal with the aftermath of this announcement and ward off questions about his future.

And when he steps out of his Ford Fusion at the end of today’s race, he’ll likely have to deal with it all again. Even if he wins.

Far be it from me to question a team owner that has made countless decisions through more than 25 years at NASCAR’s top level, but Roush did not do Edwards any favors by announcing this today.

Why now? Why not do this the mid-week before or perhaps the Monday after?

Additionally, you would think Edwards’ solid year would have earned him some courtesy on this matter. He has been Roush’s standard-bearer this season – sixth in points with two trophies from Bristol and Sonoma.

Overall, the team has been a couple of steps behind in performance. Yet Edwards has remained steady and will be among those racing for a championship this fall in the Chase. Heck, he could be the only Roush man in the post-season if Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. don’t pick up a win themselves in these final seven regular season races.

But apparently, that didn’t matter.

Once Edwards gets inside the car today at IMS, it’ll be down to business. But right now? He and the rest of his team have got to be thinking, ‘We did not need this.’

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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