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Richmond track still has exposed concrete walls UPDATE #2

05/02/11 It's doubtful this statement from Doug Fritz of Richmond International Raceway will make Jeff Gordon feel any better about his hard contact with the inside backstretch wall during Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Crown Royal 400. Gordon hit an unyielding concrete wall in an area where there is no energy-absorbing SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) barrier.

The track president on Monday issued this statement:

“The safety of all who attend our events, including the drivers, is of the utmost importance at Richmond International Raceway. We, along with NASCAR and the developer of the SAFER barrier at the University of Nebraska, review the performance of the barrier and its locations and have made improvements from time to time based on recommendations from the University of Nebraska. [We] will continue to look at being able to improve upon it.”

05/01/11 Jeff Gordon’s crash illustrated a key question about track safety. Is enough being done?

Gordon was involved in a nine-car crash. He was hit from behind and spun, slamming driver side on the inside wall where there is no SAFER barrier. Instead, Gordon hit a concrete wall.

Said Gordon afterward: "I must have hit the corner of that inside wall. Again, I wish they had a SAFER barrier there. I seem to be able to find the ones without the SAFER barrier.

“It knocked the wind out of me."

Remember, it was Gordon who slammed into the inside wall on the backstretch at Las Vegas and the track responded by placing a SAFER barrier in the area he hit.

“I think it is pretty well known we need safer barriers everywhere. You think it is a short track and everything but man, I hit a ton and hit right on the corner where you don’t want to hit. It definitely got my attention. That is for sure. It rang my bell.’’

Kyle Busch offered his support of Gordon’s notion after the race, saying: “I’m sure he’ll raise his hand and ask the question of why we don’t have SAFER barriers here. It’s all a money thing. If we could sell these places out every single time we go there, obviously the race tracks would have a little bit revenue to make a little bit better improvement to the tracks. It’s what it boils down to. Daytona or Talladega for instance, they’ve got SAFER barriers through the corners and part of the straightaway but not everywhere. We wreck more on the straightaways where there’s no SAFER barrier then we do in the turns. You wonder to yourself, we don’t need any more racing room, why don’t you have a SAFER barrier here. It’s all about dollars.’’ Hampton Roads

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