NASCAR: Toyota reveals new 2015 Camry for Sprint Cup (PHOTOS)

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Toyota officials are hopeful that the manufacturer’s overall performance in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will improve thanks to its new 2015 Camry, which was unveiled today at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The ’15 Camry certainly appears more aggressively styled than this year’s version, but time will tell if the car can help Toyota catch up to rivals Chevrolet and Ford.

The manufacturer has only been to Victory Lane twice this season with Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Busch at Fontana, Hamlin at Talladega).

During the press conference, Andy Graves, vice president of chassis development for TRD (Toyota Racing Development), said the biggest challenge of creating the new machine was taking into account feedback from the Toyota driver stable.

“That’s the way the car handles in traffic, the transient conditions, the transient aspects of the vehicle on the track – and [then] try to understand how to measure and do a better job of refining that,” said Graves.

Graves also maintained that the wind tunnel numbers for the 2015 Camry remain the same.

“It’s the things that can’t be measured in the wind tunnel – that’s where we worked,” he added. “We’ve had a rough year in 2014, and we feel like this car is gonna put us back on track in 2015.”

Per Graves, design for the 2015 Camry first started in April of 2013 and the car’s first wind tunnel test took place in January of this year. He also confirmed that the car will receive a proper track test before the start of Daytona Speedweeks next February.

Here’s a few more pictures of the 2015 Camry for Sprint Cup, as well as a look at the 2015 Camry for the NASCAR XFINITY Series.

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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