Late lap puts Brian Vickers atop first Sprint Cup practice at Texas

Leave a comment

With less than two minutes remaining in first Sprint Cup practice at Texas Motor Speedway, Brian Vickers shot to the top of the time sheets with a lap of 199.218 mph in the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota.

His late blitz ended what had been a session largely dominated by Chevrolet and Ford outfits.

Chevy racers made up the rest of the Top 5 practice speeds, with Chase competitors Kevin Harvick (198.990) and points leader Jeff Gordon (198.581) logging the second and fifth-fastest laps respectively. Tony Stewart was third (198.866) and Martin Truex Jr. was fourth (198.617).

Only one other Chaser cracked the Top 10 in the practice: Carl Edwards, who was seventh with a lap of 197.954 mph.

Aric Almirola was the fastest of the Fords (198.013), just ahead of Edwards in sixth. Jimmie Johnson, Trevor Bayne, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. went eighth, ninth, and 10th.

Some of the other Chasers did not start their weekend as well as they probably would have liked. Texas spring winner Joey Logano (196.492) and Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski (196.192) were 20th and 24th in the session.

Also a bit off speed-wise were Ryan Newman in 23rd (196.285) and Matt Kenseth in 26th (195.936). The one other Chaser we haven’t mentioned yet, Denny Hamlin, was a bit higher up in 12th (197.390).

Qualifying for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 will take place later tonight at 6:45 p.m. ET.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Texas – Friday Practice Times

New study surveys drivers’ opinions on crashes, concussions, more

James Black/IndyCar
Leave a comment

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

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter