NASCAR: Roush Fenway brings on Ortho to back Greg Biffle, No. 16 car

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Home, lawn, and garden pest control brand Ortho will become an “anchor partner” of Greg Biffle and the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Fusion in 2015.

The partnership marks a return to RFR for Ortho’s parent group, the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, which backed the team from 2005 to 2011.

Ortho will make its debut on the No. 16 car next weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and will appear in two more 2014 Sprint Cup events before beginning its 2015 duties with RFR.

In a press conference today at Bristol Motor Speedway, RFR president Steve Newmark did not give an exact number of 2015 races that Ortho would have on the No. 16, but said that the total would be around “roughly half” of next year’s Cup schedule.

Biffle’s current sponsor, 3M, recently announced a move to Hendrick Motorsports, where they will serve as a primary sponsor over the next three seasons for Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 car.

But today at Bristol, Biffle said that he’s excited to get a fresh start with Ortho. He also noted that he was already using their products himself, which apparently come in handy when it’s time to pull into the track for the weekend.

“It’s funny – I keep the product on my bus, because when we park in the motorhome lots, you can’t just choose your spots,” he noted with amusement. “So, sometimes, you park there and ‘By the way, right outside your front door is a fire ant pile.'”

But fire ants are the least of Biffle’s worries this weekend at Bristol.

With three regular season races left, Biffle has moved into the 16th and final position on the Chase Grid. But he remains winless and only has a nine-point advantage on 17th-place Kasey Kahne.

So what will he and the No. 16 team’s strategy be this weekend? Defending that final Chase Grid spot with a good points day or attacking in hopes of a victory that can put them into the post-season?

“You take chances, make passes, do all the things you can do,” Biffle said. “But at the same time, we know we’re on the bubble in points. I feel it’s going to take a win still to get in this thing, and that’s what we’re going for.”

Biffle has never won at Bristol in his Sprint Cup career (best finish of third in 2005). He finished 12th there this past spring in a race that RFR teammate Carl Edwards won.

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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