‘Everyone is concerned’ about the safety of the next generation of NASCAR

Team Penske Lugano’s driver, who won the Cup Series title in 2018, is one of 16 drivers locked up in qualifying that begins this weekend in Darlington thanks to regular season wins at Darlington and Gateway.

But after a devastating race in Daytona on Sunday won by Austin Dillon, which included several multiple car crashes, Lugano expressed concern that the new machine built for the 2022 Dallara gave drivers more “brutal” effects than its predecessor.

Busch, the 2004 Cup champion, has been out since a qualifying crash at Pocono and elected to relinquish his place in the playoffs – Lugano’s teammate Ryan Blaney inherited him as the top-ranked driver during the regular season without a win.

“I’m worried, I think everyone is concerned now,” said Lugano, who recently signed a multi-year extension of the Penske deal.

“I don’t see how you can’t be.

“When you look at the competitors and your own experiences that are tough compared to what the old car was like, yes, you get attention.

“You look at some of the things that happened – Kurt’s situation, you hear about some shipwrecks from last weekend [at Daytona]my experiences in Charlotte and Michigan in testing, these things are real.

“You can’t hide from it. I spent more time on these things than I did with the old car. There must be a reason for that.”

Some drivers raised concerns about the car’s safety during its initial test, but last July an independent panel of experts signed off on the car’s safety after the results of a review of crash test data.



The committee consisted of Dr. James Radin, who was involved in the investigation into the death of the late Dale Earnhardt; Jeff Crandall, engineering consultant for the NFL; Dr.. Barry Myers, professor of biomedical engineering at Duke University, and Dr. and Dr. Joel Steitzl, chief of biomedical engineering at Wake Forest Baptist Health.

There were differences that NASCAR noticed with the new car’s design from the outset, however, particularly the potential for increased rear impact severity due to the shortening of the cars’ rear end.

Another highlight is the general increase in speed of the Cup cars this season due to the change in the aerodynamic package.

Bubba Wallace complained to his team radio after crashing in last Sunday’s race in Daytona that he had suffered a severe rear shock to his car.

Denny Hamlin announced this week that he will sit down to Saturday’s Xfinity Series race in Darlington to focus on the Cup race while complaining of the constant pain from his wreck in Daytona.

NASCAR officials say they continue to collect and analyze all collision data in an effort to find areas to improve background effects. That includes looking at the rear section, rear bumper structure, rear bumper and rear bumper foam.

When asked if NASCAR’s response to driver concerns so far is what he’d like it to be, Lugano said: “Not until it’s fixed, no. I think that takes time.

“It’s frustrating that we are in this position in the first place but it doesn’t seem like everything has been added so far to make the best decisions.

“I think the situation we’re in as a sport is what are the things that make this car hurt the most when it crashes? And what can we fix? Are there quick fixes or are they fixes that have to happen over time? There’s a little of both, for sure.”

Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Worth Ford Mustang, Joey Logano, Team Penske, Shell Benzwell Ford Mustang

Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Worth Ford Mustang, Joey Logano, Team Penske, Shell Benzwell Ford Mustang

Photo by: Rusty Jarrett / NKP / Motorsport Images

Although drivers have recently expressed their concerns publicly, Lugano said the problem “was there before the car hit the track”.

“Now it’s out for you guys,” he said, “because there’s a driver sitting outside.” “It is now exposed.”

However, driver reactions to the wrecks varied widely, with Chase Briscoe stating that his experience in the wrecks, both times at breakneck speeds, was “much better than I thought it would be”.

Even Lugano understands that there is no “quick and easy solution” to the issues raised.

“I’m not saying the car isn’t safe, I’m saying it’s not as safe as the old car in some ways – in some ways, it’s safer than the old one,” he said.

“In terms of snooping, I don’t see anything getting into the car as easily as an old car. As far as rolling and squashing the cage on your head – I feel the way, way, way is better about this situation.”

“Top 10 percent shipwrecks and intrusion issues, I feel so much better about that. It’s the daily hits that are more severe than they used to be.”

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