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After Eric McClure's crash, will drivers become more proactive? Carl Edwards says yes

After Eric McClure's crash, will drivers become more proactive? Carl Edwards says yes

Carl Edwards (R) and the man with the plan, boss Jack Roush (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   Eric McClure's Talladega crash last weekend highlighted in quite dramatic fashion the effectiveness of the many safety moves NASCAR and its tracks have made over the past few years.
    However footage of that crash   also highlights a continuing problem at many of tour tracks – if McClure had hit the inside wall just a few feet further down, he might well have been much more seriously injured, because that section of wall has no Safer barrier. http://bit.ly/KbgEor
    It might seem incredulous that NASCAR drivers have not been more proactive on such an issue, since it's their bodies on the firing line.
    Why aren't drivers taking a more active role in examining these tracks for potentially deadly situations?
    Carl Edwards, who has had his share of Talladega drama, considers that question:
     "That's because we don't think like that – We think how we can win. We probably don't think enough about how to be as safe as we could be," Edwards says. 
     "I saw that crash, live like everybody here, and I cannot believe that he's okay and he walked away. 
     "I don't know what his injuries were, but to be able to walk away from something like that is a huge testament to everything that we're doing. 
     "But, as always, if there are places...
     "That's one thing about race cars and wrecking -- it seems people always find a way to find the spot on the race track where the SAFER barrier isn't there... or you find a way to hit the wall that the HANS device doesn't help you or the seat doesn't help you. 
     "I think the more we can do to just look at those things and to address them, the better.
     "So maybe we should address it more. 

   Eric McClure's car (R) comes to rest at Talladega after hard crash (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

      "We have those safety meetings each year, and, as best I can tell, NASCAR and everybody involved really looks at these tracks and tries as hard as they can to find all the spots people could hit," Edwards says.
     "But Elliott Sadler’s wreck at Pocono showed us that there are spots where you can hit so hard. 
     "I think those are all things we can look at.
      "So if that brings attention to it and lets us look at some things, then that's good. 
      "But I guess the reason we don't do it is because we just come into these weekends thinking about how to win, win, win.  Honestly, I
don't look at the race track and say 'Where are all the places I could wreck here?' 
     "I don't think like that. And maybe we should."

   Elliott Sadler (2) nose first into the outside wall at Darlington in Friday night's Nationwide 200 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

      One big question facing drivers and crews in Saturday night's Southern 500 is the 'Regan Smith' question.
      In last spring's 500, Carl Edwards was leading late when the caution came out on lap 359 of the 367-lapper.
     To pit or not to pit?
      Edwards and most of the rest of the leaders pitted for fresh tires, which are a decided advantage here.
      Regan Smith stayed on the track, inherited the lead, and held everyone off the rest of the way.
      Track position trumped fresh tires.
      Will that hold true again Saturday night?
       Edwards: "You cannot discount how hard Regan drove those last couple of laps.  I think he surprised everyone,
including myself. 
      "His car was very fast, and he did a heck of a job."
      Tires here lose speed over a run. But it's not clear how much of an advantage, and for how many laps, new tires help.
"Drivers hope that the tires will fall off a little bit more and that the track will eat those tires up," Edwards says. "And then it becomes
really a battle of the race cars and the drivers, and not so much the pit strategy. 
      "This is the fourth year for the new pavement.  The first couple of years the tires didn’t fall off a lot, the cars didn’t wiggle much. 
     "This year it feels like a pretty big step."
    So, if you're leading and the caution comes out with 10 or 15 laps to go, what do you do? Pit or not?
    Martin Truex Jr.:
    "I honestly don't think anyone knows yet.  I think it's one of those questions you answer during the race at some point.  You have to look and see how much the tires fall off, how much the speeds fall off.  It's going to be a lot cooler than what we practiced in: the conditions are going to be so much different, it's hard to say.  
    "Obviously people will be thinking back to last year.  If it comes down to that, you're going to have guys stay out (and not pit).... and you just need to hope you're in front of those guys if you do it too."

    Regan Smith, victorious in the 2011 Southern 500, with great late race strategy (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)



Cars will find the week spots at every track.

Cars will find the week spots at every track. Run those safer barriers everywhere before someone gets again. They do work.

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