While there’s no denying that Kurt Busch has had a series of slams this season, his fellow NASCAR Cup Series drivers are questioning the car’s role as Busch continues to be sidelined with concussion-like symptoms.
“We have all the data on him, he’s taken a lot of hits over 25g,” said Busch co-owner Denny Hamlin. “The body can only take so much. We have paused with this car and our bodies haven’t matched the data we’ve been shown for a while, but I don’t think they have any answers for us at the moment, and we don’t have any other questions beyond what we know It looks like it’s been exposed to be beaten.”
Bush will miss his third race in a row this weekend. He crashes into his qualifying lap at Pocono Raceway as his #45 Toyota spins around and slams into a wall yet to be seen by Bush being cleared by doctors. Ty Gibbs remains his alternate driver.
The good news is that Busch is staying active on social media, and is sharing about his recovery. Last weekend, Bush was at the team store to follow activities from Indianapolis. Earlier this week, he posted about his involvement in the Charlotte Football Club football match to immerse himself in a bustling environment.
In the meantime, the safety aspect of the next-generation car remains a topic of conversation. NASCAR officials collect data from each wreck through “black boxes,” which are crash data recorders, and there are also cameras that focus solely on the driver to show what they are experiencing in an accident. NASCAR officials are also working with drivers on mouthguard accelerometers to record an impact on the driver.
A number of drivers have noted that the effects this year are markedly different. Former Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick was particularly noteworthy for his comments in Indianapolis. Never getting wet with words, Harvick questioned the sanctioning body’s safety priority with The Next Generation versus racetrack competition.
“I think when you look at the things that have happened with the accidents, I think those are exactly the concerns that drivers have had since the first day they saw the car,” Harvick said. “There hasn’t been a lot of progress other than we changed some elements of the rear section; we changed some elements of the impact. But these cars don’t crash like other cars. They are violent impacts, and it feels a lot different than it is to load the crash data. It goes straight through the driver’s body” .
Harvick continued by saying of NASCAR, “I’ve seen a list of things from them, and it’s not the most important thing in priority. It’s always about the competition. I know they’re not going to tell you, but the concerns the drivers were just feeling didn’t seem to resonate with a really quick response really trying to improve it.”
Harvick emphasized that only the drivers understood how bad the strikes were. He said there were times when there was a full extension of the HANS after a driver folded another car in the back when restarting.
“It takes a second for you to really figure out that your hood hasn’t collapsed and that the ductwork is still in it and the things that happened,” Harvick said. “I don’t think anyone really understands, except for drivers who hit something, the violence that comes in the car.”
Harvick believed NASCAR was more reactive than proactive.
“There is no easy solution, but it should be a much higher priority than it is now,” he said. “I know safety is always a priority, and we’ve done a good job at that, but from the start, everyone can see this car was very solid. When you crashed in Fontana, you thought the car was destroyed, you barely supported the bumper, and it felt like someone hit you with a hammer “.
Chase Briscoe doesn’t know if he wants to know the data and all the information from the Busch accident. As Briscoe thinks about what’s going on, he knows NASCAR officials won’t put a worse car on the racetrack, and he understands that it will take time to understand it better when it’s put into certain situations.
“We’ve changed quite a bit in this car already, and as we get more data points we can take from it and hopefully make it better each time,” Briscoe said. “But, honestly, until we crash a few times, it will take a bunch of data points to figure out what we need to do differently.
“It’s a pity we have to do this, but that’s the point of it. I don’t really care to see (the numbers). If it collides big, well, yeah, I’d like to know the number of acceleration forces or whatever. But to be honest with you, the numbers, I don’t really know what to look for anyway, so it’s not like it’s going to make much of a difference to me.”