Kyle Busch wins Nationwide at Kansas, looks ahead to Sunday’s Chase race

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Considering how badly Kyle Busch has fared in the Sprint Cup Series at Kansas Speedway, he’ll certainly take any momentum he can get going into tomorrow’s Contender Round opener at the 1.5-mile oval.

Today, he got some.

Busch passed fellow Cup regular Kevin Harvick for the lead with 20 laps to go and went on to pick up his sixth Nationwide Series win of 2014 and his second in as many weeks.

So what can “Rowdy” take away from today’s victory and perhaps apply toward what he hopes will be a solid day tomorrow?

“You learn enough here,” Busch said to ESPN. “There was a bit of some moving around today – trying to run bottom, trying to run top, seeing where the different lines were in traffic and stuff like that.

“I feel like our Cup car is okay, and if we can get out of here with a Top-10 day tomorrow, that’d be pretty good.”

Ryan Blaney finished third for Team Penske, while Richard Childress Racing teammates Paul Menard and Ty Dillon finished fourth and fifth respectively.

In addition to Busch’s triumph, today may also prove notable for serving as the effective conclusion to the 2014 NNS title race.

Chase Elliott finished a perhaps sub-par 10th, but extended his championship lead over JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith by an additional 12 points to 38 with four races remaining.

Smith was already having a bad Saturday after he spun and crashed in qualifying. Forced to race a backup car, Smith was making enough progress to minimize points damage – until he suffered a broken sway bar arm in the second half of the race.

After an extended repair on pit road, Smith eventually finished eight laps down in 22nd place.

The first half was marred by seven cautions within the first 90 laps, the last of those involving Sprint Cup rookie star Kyle Larson spinning off Turn 2 and then collecting early leader Chris Buescher.

Elliott Sadler held the lead at the halfway point, but at Lap 125, Busch took the lead from him with an inside pass. Green-flag stops then ensued just before Lap 140, with Busch himself giving up the lead for service at Lap 139.

The cycle had yet to be completed when Dakoda Armstrong spun off Turn 2 at Lap 144. Harvick was leading at this point and because he had not yet pitted under green, he became the only driver on the lead lap.

Harvick pitted under the caution and Busch, being the first driver one lap down, got the free pass while the others had to take the wave around. As that was being sorted out, Smith went to the pits for repairs after his car sustained the aforementioned broken sway bar arm.

The green returned with 48 laps to go, but one lap later, Elliott found himself caught in lapped traffic and after taking contact from Mike Bliss on the inside, he ended up clipping Jamie Dick on the outside and sent him into the wall.

Elliott, bearing some left rear damage, was among several leaders that chose to pit during the yellow. Back up front, Harvick held the point off of the restart with 40 to go.

But with less than 25 laps remaining, Busch pulled to within a couple of car lengths of Harvick. Then, with 20 to go, Busch went inside of Harvick off Turn 4 and cleared him coming out of the tri-oval.

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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