Daytona 500: Track confident over crowd safety after crash
|By Matt Beer||Sunday, February 24th 2013, 15:23 GMT|
Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood says the venue is confident that it has done everything it can to ensure crowd safety for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup opener following the fan injuries in Saturday's Nationwide event.
A last-lap crash in the Nationwide round resulted in Kyle Larson's car flying into the safety fence.
The Turner Scott Chevrolet's engine and front suspension sheared through the fence, with one wheel being launched into the grandstands.
Twenty-eight fans suffered injuries. Fourteen were treated at the circuit and the remainder transported to local hospitals.
Two were initially listed as being in a critical condition, before their status was upgraded to stable on Sunday morning.
The section of fence has been replaced and Chitwood said there was no reason why the Daytona 500 could not go ahead as scheduled.
"I think we've got very good safety protocols," he said.
"We had a structural engineering firm come in to look at our fencing and based on their recommendations, we installed a new fence.
"I think we've done a great job being prepared for our racing events.
"Incidents do happen. But I think that those are the exception. If you look at our 55 years in the business, we've got a pretty good safety track record. So I think we're prepared today."
Repairs at the track were completed at 2am local time.
The crossover gate that Larson hit has been replaced by a standard fence, but Chitwood denied this decision was influenced by any safety concerns over the gate design.
"That was based on the timing and being ready to run today for the Daytona 500," he said.
Daytona announced plans for a major redevelopment of its spectator facilities on Friday, and Chitwood underlined that any lessons learned from the crash would be incorporated.
"I think NASCAR and Daytona share the same feelings in that if there are opportunities to improve things we will, whether it's on-track products, whether it's safety," he said.
"I don't think either entity is sitting back."