Kyle Busch earns Nationwide pole for tonight at Bristol

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Kyle Busch captured the pole position for tonight’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Food City 300 with a lap of 125.142 miles per hour in the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Busch unseated Kyle Larson from the provisional pole with roughly seven and a half minutes remaining in the second and final round of knockout qualifying.

He then improved to his final pole time of 15.333 seconds on his next lap (his third timed lap in Round 2).

“It was quite eventful to be honest with you, but that’s pretty quick around here for these Nationwide cars,” Busch said to Fox Sports after claiming his fifth Nationwide pole of 2014.

“…[Crew chief] Adam [Stevens] and the guys again have done a nice job this weekend, so we’ll see if we can capitalize on what we’ve got right now and see if we can win here after 300 laps.”

Joining him on the front row will be Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney, who will make his second front row start of the year (pole at Iowa Speedway in May) in the No. 22 Ford.

“I thought I got beat getting into the corner, by my Dad [Dave Blaney] said he killed me off the corner, so I guess I got in a little bit deeper than I expected,” Ryan said.

“I didn’t think we were great the first round – we kinda took it easy a little bit – but [crew chief] Jeremy Bullins did a great job of adjusting it here for the second round, the one that counts. I just needed a little more stability in the corner.”

Kyle Larson and Nationwide Series points leader Chase Elliott will start from Row 2, followed by a pair of Joe Gibbs Racing pilots – Elliott Sadler and young Erik Jones – in Row 3. Ty Dillon and Regan Smith are in Row 4, and Row 5 belongs to Richard Childress Racing teammates Brian Scott and Cale Conley.

The first round was slowed by a red flag following a two-car incident involving Carl Long and Hermie Sadler. About 10 minutes into the 30-minute round, Long spun out off of Turn 4 and slid into the back of Sadler on the frontstretch.

Sadler sustained serious rear-end damage to his No. 19 car, but Fox Sports reported during the qualifying telecast that his team would make repairs to the wounded primary instead of bringing out their backup. He was able to make the field on owner’s points.

Five drivers failed to qualify for tonight’s race: Milka Duno, Derrike Cope, Matt Frahm, Carl Long, and Ryan Ellis.

The green flag for tonight’s 300-lap event should fall shortly after 7:30 p.m. ET.

NASCAR Nationwide Series at Bristol – Food City 300 Starting Lineup

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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