TALLADEGA, Ala. — In an era of increased safety initiatives in NASCAR, Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth brought up yet another talking point in the form of how drivers navigate incidents, zooming by spun or otherwise wrecked cars at full speed on restrictor plate tracks.
That’s what happened to Carl Edwards on the final lap of the Sprint Cup race at Talladega on Sunday as he was spun out and slid sideways for several seconds with cars zipping by and racing to the finish with NASCAR officials opting not to throw a caution. While no one made contact with Edwards, the veteran contender was concerned that someone could have drilled him on his driver side door, injuring him in the process.
“NASCAR does such a good job of making these cars safe and these tracks safe but the biggest cause of injury is going to be one of us not checking up when a guy is sideways,” Edwards said. “I had my door facing the field and (Justin Allgaier) comes by at like 160 mph and that’s not the way I want to these guys to race around me.
Kenseth was one of the drivers that let off the throttle to avoid hitting his teammate and was in disbelief that NASCAR didn’t throw a caution for the apparent safety hazard.
“I had to lift so I didn’t send Carl (Edwards) to the hospital and I’m just dumbfounded that NASCAR didn’t throw a caution,” Kenseth said. “We were driving past wrecked cars for half a lap at 180 mph – it was a crazy ending.”
Edwards says he plans to talk to his fellow drivers over the next couple days because he’s seen this happen several times over the past couple of years. A similar incident unfolded at the Daytona 500 when Jeff Gordon spun on the final lap and several drivers raced by him at full speed until NASCAR called for the caution.
Edwards was one of the drivers that lifted and said he did so with regards to driver safety. He wishes he had been afforded the same luxury on Sunday at Talladega.
“People will say its my job to stay in the throttle and go race but we’re all human beings out here, and when a guy is wrecking you can’t just lay into his door,” Edwards said. “That’s pretty dangerous.
“I can do all this complaining but no one ran into me. But, man, it’s tough.”
Ryan Blaney finished fourth on Sunday and said that it’s the natural reaction of a driver to speed up through an incident to avoid getting caught up in the ordeal.
“The only thing I can say about that is half of it is the guys want to get past the wreck as quick as possible,” Blaney said. “I think that’s half the reason why you see them wide-open is because they’re afraid of him coming back down the race track or coming up the race track.
“They don’t want to get collected in it. I didn’t see how he spun, if he was right in the middle of the track or what, but I think that’s really most of the reason is guys just want to get by it and they don’t want to get caught up in it.”
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