Another Broken Seat Belt

NASCAR officials found a partially torn seat belt in Jeremy Mayfield’s wrecked race car in an inspection of the No. 12 Penske South Ford.

Mayfield crashed in Turn 1 during Sunday’s MBNA Cal Ripken Jr. 400 at Dover Downs International Speedway, hitting the wall after a tire went down. He briefly lost consciousness but walked into the infield care center.

He was taken to Bayhealth Medical Center in Dover, Del., where a CAT scan came back negative. The only injuries he had were minor bruises and a chipped tooth.

The left lap belt, the same one that tore in the accident that took the life of Dale Earnhardt in the Daytona 500 in February, was partially torn in Mayfield’s car, NASCAR announced in a statement. A published report said it was a belt manufactured by Simpson Performance Products, the same maker of Earnhardt’s torn belt.

NASCAR said the belt had “dumped,” the same act that happened to Earnhardt’s belt. Seat-belt dumping occurs when the belt is pulled or moved to one side of the metal adjuster. NASCAR did not say whether the partially torn belt played any role in Mayfield’s chipped tooth. Mayfield wears a full-face helmet, while Earnhardt did not.

NASCAR said it has “outside experts” examining the belt and “plans to offer recommendations to its teams prior to this coming weekend’s activities.” The Winston Cup and Busch Series both race at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. this weekend.

A Goodyear spokesman said the right-front tire on Mayfield’s car was too badly damaged to determine what happened. Dave Blaney also had a tire go down, but his tire was too torn up to figure out what happened, too. Both Mayfield’s and Blaney’s teams are known for having “aggressive” setups. Earlier this year in New Hampshire, three teams had tire trouble, including Mayfield and Blaney.

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