Daytona, Talladega Improve Crossover Gates

Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson climbs from his battered car after crash in February at Daytona

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Improvements have been made to the crossover gates at Talladega Superspeedway and will be completed at Daytona International Speedway before the July race weekend, in light of the Feb. 23 incident where Kyle Larson’s car sailed into the catchfence and injured 28 fans at the conclusion of the season-opening NASCAR Nationwide Series race.

Larson’s engine and two front tires penetrated the crossover gate in the fencing.

Joie Chitwood, president of Daytona International Speedway, said that additional cables will be installed along with supplemental tethering between the gate frame and posts.

“We’re pleased with the solution that we’re implementing for Daytona and Talladega, but fan safety is an ongoing process and we’re going to look at the fan experience across all our venues for future improvements,’’ Chitwood said in a teleconference with reporters Wednesday afternoon.

Chitwood said there was no need to eliminate the track’s eight crossover gates.  Track officials consulted the structural engineering firms of HNTB and Walter P. Moore.

“We feel really good with their recommendations,’’ Chitwood added.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR senior vice president for racing operations, said NASCAR would not require other tracks to make similar changes.

“One of the things that is unique to this ... is first and foremost, we wanted to put the solution in place, if any, at the superspeedway tracks, specifically Talladega upcoming and Daytona,’’ O’Donnell said.  "Beyond that, we wanted to look at each track and each track has its own unique characteristics in terms of speed and banking.

"We will be sharing the information that we learned with the tracks, that’s already ongoing, and from there, we will be looking at speeds, angles and a number of different factors that may apply at each individual track.  If changes are required, we’ll certainly work with the track to get those done and with the outside experts.’’

O’Donnell also said that NASCAR still has Larson’s car and continues to study it, along with the car of Michael Annett, who suffered a fractured sternum in a separate accident earlier in the race.  Annett had surgery in February.  He continues to recover and has not raced since.

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