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DATE News (chronologically)
04/28/09
track news
Talladega Catch-fence to be evaluated
Carl Edwards smashes into the safety fence on last lap.  Debris injured 8 race fans sitting in Talladega's 'suicide seats'
Rhonda McCole/AR1.com
Talladega Superspeedway officials will evaluate to see if the catch-fence system involved on the spectacular last-lap crash in Sunday's Sprint Cup race needs to be heightened, track president Rick Humphrey said Monday. #99-Carl Edwards' car went airborne into the fence after a nudge by winner Brad Keselowski coming off Turn 4, leaving seven people with non-life threatening injuries. Two women were airlifted to area hospitals.

One was released on Sunday night and another remained hospitalized on Monday in "fair condition" with a possible fractured jaw. Humphrey said the poles and cables, while bent, did not appear to come unattached. That left him to speculate that those injured were struck by pieces from Edwards' car. Humphrey said the track will evaluate whether the height of the catch fence needs to be adjusted to prevent debris from reaching the stands. The Talladega fence was approximately 14 feet from the ground to the top. The distance from the track to the top of the fence at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte is 21 feet. LMS went from a catch-fence system that was 15 feet tall with three feet of hangover to 21 feet with six feet of hangover after parts of an IRL car went into stands during a 1999 race. Three were killed and eight injured in that incident.

"We certainly will look at that and see if any of that needs to change and if it would have made any difference [Sunday] ... what would have happened had the fence been higher," Humphrey said. Humphrey said the fence is in the process of being reconstructed in time for a weekend driving school. He said no decisions will be made on whether the system needs to be adjusted until officials have looked at it from all perspectives. "The system in place did its job," Humphrey said. "It is designed to put the race car back on the track and it certainly did. But we'll certainly continue to look at videos and all that we have to see if there is anything else that needs to be done."

That includes looking to see if fans need to be moved further from the racing surface. "We'll look at everything to see what we can do to prevent this," Humphrey said. "Let me just say how fortunate we feel and how blessed we are that nobody was really hurt seriously." Humphrey understands there are concerns about safety concerns in general at Talladega. He has read comments from drivers and media members, some suggesting the track should be blown up and rebuilt from scratch. "Racing is a dangerous sport in general," he said.

"Certainly, Talladega has created some very exciting racing and exciting finishes and along the way there have been some incidents that people have been rather outspoken about. We've had several caution-free races here, too. The racing here is unique. I don't think anything drastic needs to happen," he said. Humphrey said NASCAR officials, who plan to address the finish later in the day, appeared satisfied that the system in place worked. "We'll continue to have discussions to see what, if anything, needs to be done," Humphrey said. "The answer is not to blow the place up and start over." ESPN

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