By Jared Turner
How is it possible for any track – especially Daytona International Speedway, “The World Center of Racing” – to lack soft wall technology in 21st century NASCAR?
The answer is: It shouldn’t be possible. But, as Kyle Busch found out in the worst kind of way, that’s the stark reality of the situation.
If there had been a SAFER barrier installed at the part of the track where Busch hit the wall late in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race, he would not have suffered two fractures and been forced to miss the next day’s Daytona 500.
Blame it on the cost of installing SAFER barriers or whatever you wish, but there is simply no excuse for any track not taking every step possible to ensure the safety of all competitors.
Daytona failed big-time during Speedweeks, and let’s hope the track makes good on its promise to fix the issue in short order.
Speaking of people needing to fix things, it’s starting to seem like Tony Stewart may never win the Daytona 500.
The three-time Sprint Cup Series champion’s wreck early in Sunday’s 57th running of The Great American Race made him an ugly 0-for-17 in the prestigious season opener at the 2.5-mile high-banked layout. Not that he hasn’t been close to winning the 500, of course.
Stewart finished second to Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2004, and was leading in 2008 before the Team Penske cars of Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch ganged up on him and moved by on the final lap.
Even so, Stewart is running out of chances to collect one of those coveted Harley J. Earl Daytona 500 trophies he so desires. Without one, his legacy in the sport will forever be incomplete – no matter how much ol’ Smoke might bristle at the notion and try to convince us otherwise.