Drivers call for safety measures at New Hampshire

Leading Winston Cup drivers have reacted angrily to NASCAR's failure to make any changes to the New Hampshire oval where two drivers have been killed this year, according to this week's Autosport magazine

Drivers call for safety measures at New Hampshire

NASCAR's premier series returns to New Hampshire next weekend for its second race of the season at the 1.058 mile oval. Teenage Busch Series driver Adam Petty died after a collision with the Turn 3 wall in May, while former Winston Cup Rookie of the Year Kenny Irwin suffered an almost identical fatal accident in July in exactly the same place.

The drivers have called for 'soft-walls' to be used on Turn 3, similar to the styrofoam blocks used at Watkins Glen, but NASCAR officials have said they expect no changes to the track before next weekend's 400-miler.

"Every driver in the garage would be appalled if we went back to New Hampshire and there was nothing on those walls," said former champion Rusty Wallace.

Both fatal accidents were thought to be caused by sticking throttles - a problem that also afflicted the Pontiac of current points-leader Bobby Labonte at Darlington last weekend during practice, fortunately without injury. In response to the New Hampshire fatalities, all cars must now be fitted with instant 'kill' switches for the engines on the steering wheel.

Labonte was not convinced of the effectiveness of the switch after his accident. "There are two [switches] in there and I didn't have time to hit either one," he said.

Track personnel declined to comment on the matter and it is unclear if the 'soft walls' are the ideal solution. One view is that a styrofoam barrier may do more harm than good, as cars could bounce back down the track into the paths of the rest of the field, rather than staying close to the wall after an impact.

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