Drivers can’t have a lead foot on pit road if they hope to win Chase

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Remember the old Sammy Hagar song, “I Can’t Drive 55”?

That’s kind of the same situation with a number of Sprint Cup drivers when it comes to being on pit road.

According to NASCAR’s crack team of statisticians – and not exactly surprising – there’s a number of drivers with lead feet when they’re on pit road.

Surprisingly, Travis Kvapil has the heaviest foot on pit road, having been whistled for speeding a series-leading five times thus far in 2014.

You have to wonder if NASCAR officials haven’t asked Kvapil a time or two, “Where’s the fire at, Travis?”

Dave Blaney and David Ragan also have been whistled for speeding infractions four times, along with Chase drivers Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch.

The only other Chase driver who has been caught multiple times is Kevin Harvick, who’s been guilty of the violation three times thus far this season.

Non-Chase drivers that have also been caught speeding thrice each are Kyle Larson, Casey Mears, Tony Stewart, Brian Vickers, Michael Annett, Reed Sorenson and Joe Nemechek.

Courtesy of Dustin Long of MRN.com, here’s a list of how many Chase drivers have been caught exceeding the pit road speed limits thus far in 2014:

Four times: Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson

Three times: Kevin Harvick

Twice: Aric Almirola, Brad Keselowski

Once: AJ Allmendinger, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman

Zero: Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards

Long also makes a very important point:

“A penalty could prove devastating to a team’s title hopes. No driver has won a Cup race after being penalized for speeding on pit road since Matt Kenseth did so Aug. 2013 at Bristol.”

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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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