Practice day crash tests Daytona safety measures

Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:50am EST
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By Lewis Franck

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (Reuters) - Spectator safety measures were put to the test at Daytona International Speedway on Wednesday when a seven-car accident ended opening Sprint Cup Series practice for the day ahead of Sunday's Daytona 500 race.

A car driven by rookie Parker Kligerman was sent into the catch fence, near the area of a multi-car accident last year in which more than 30 fans were injured, but thankfully this time the spectator area was not breached.

Wednesday's accident, in which no one was injured, was apparently caused when Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth made contact in tight drafting practice, resulting in several vehicles being diverted sideways.

Kligerman bore the brunt of it as his vehicle rode up and over the car of Paul Menard before getting pushed from behind by Ryan Truex's vehicle, then slid along the top of the outside wall and into the catch fence.

"Turns out Joey was bump drafting the 20 (car of Kenseth) in the middle of the pack when we were trying to get up to speed," Menard, who was among the fastest in qualifying practice, told reporters. "I guess that's the end result."

Track president Joie Chitwood III told Reuters that the gate in the area of the accident had not been restored because there were an additional nine crossover gates at the venue.

"We did not put back in the one we lost after the accidents," Chitwood said. "For us, we're always going to look to be better.

"It's no different when we put in the SAFER barriers (fences designed to dissipate race car inertia). Five years ago, we replaced all the fencing."   Continued...