NASCAR, drivers have a look at cockpit security to stop head accidents

When Alex Bowman returned to racing after lacking 5 weeks with a concussion, he returned to a automobile that was principally the identical apart from one space he can management.

Tyler Reddick did not miss any races, however he did race at Phoenix every week after he retired early from the race at Martinsville after a mix of impacts shook his head. He did not instantly make modifications as a result of he wished extra analysis.

Drivers have been what they will do with the headrest space to stop concussions and accidents. Whereas NASCAR will change a few of the rear chassis geometry subsequent yr in hopes of creating the automobile flatten higher to minimize the influence on the driving force, additionally it is enhancements within the cockpit space.

Alex Bowman opens up about his concussion in Texas

Alex Bowman opens up about his concussion in Texas

Alex Bowman mentioned he knew Wednesday evening after Texas that he was in no form to run. He talks about having days when he felt like he might run and days when he knew he wanted extra time to get better.

“It is not simply the automobile,” NASCAR chief working officer Steve O’Donnell mentioned throughout NASCAR’s state of the game information convention on Saturday. “I believe the dialogue we have had with the groups now entails the way you match into your seat, helmets, foam, head body.

“All of these issues are a part of this dialogue, which is absolutely good. We’re seeing some enhancements each day as we glance in direction of 2023.”

The brand new Subsequent Gen automobile launched in 2022 was designed to guard drivers from catastrophic accidents, and O’Donnell mentioned they discovered issues about this automobile that they hadn’t seen in earlier vehicles.

“What we’re studying is that these little bumps, which we have by no means seen earlier than by way of a automobile we have raced in, are those we actually must concentrate on,” O’Donnell mentioned.

“That is why you are changes being made to the clip, for these smaller impacts, even a success on a reset, that kind of factor.”

Hendrick Motorsports engineers labored to attempt to discover methods to lower Bowman’s danger of a concussion if he had an incident much like the one in Texas, the place his head appeared to hit the again of the headrest. Spotters inform drivers to maintain their heads again towards the again of the headrest in the event that they crash.

Bowman’s group modified the headrest mounts and went again to utilizing an older sort of froth that they’d used on the headrest.

“We moved the headrest angles round a little bit bit, added extra foam, various kinds of foam,” Bowman mentioned. “I modified my helmet a little bit bit. We modified rather a lot.

“It is a technique of doing all the things proper and feeling snug with all the things.”

Alex Bowman describes the modifications to the headrest

Alex Bowman, who missed five races due to a concussion, describes the changes he and his team made to the headrest.

Bowman said what works for one driver might not work for another driver when it comes to matching safety with the head movement they’re used to, as well as how their head might move in an accident (probably depending on how sit on the seat) .

Reddick said he was hesitant to change the foam on his car without having an analysis of the impact of any changes. All materials would be required to be approved by the motorsports safety standards organization SFI.

“As much as you think softer is better, it can be bad in other ways,” Reddick said. “If it’s too soft, it can grab your head and expose you to rotational forces, which are just as dangerous.

“It’s just a fine line. Everyone is working to explore bigger and better things.”

Bowman said the foam change in his headrest is a mix of foam used in the past.

“Some kind of different layers of different types of foam,” Bowman said. “So it’s not as solid in some areas, but it still dissipates charge adequately.”

One thing Reddick has that few other drivers have: data from a mouth guard he was wearing that gives him and NASCAR a better idea of ​​the forces in Reddick’s head.

Reddick said he’s used it for several races as an extra piece of data-gathering. Cup cars have incident data recorders to determine g-forces in a crash and also have a driver-focused high-speed camera that activates during a crash so NASCAR and teams can see where and how violently the driver moves during an accident. .

Tyler Reddick on what happened in Martinsville

Tyler Reddick on what happened in Martinsville

Tyler Reddick explains what happened at Martinsville that forced him to retire from the race and also that he was wearing a mouthpiece that collected data on the crash.

Reddick said he reviewed the nozzle data with NASCAR safety engineers the day after the crash.

“It was an accumulation of restarts and I ran into Noah’s back [Gragson] and my head went forward,” Reddick said. “And then while I was in the forward position, I was rear-ended and I hit my head pretty hard on the headrest.

“Based on what you would see in the nozzle sensor data, it’s a bit surprising. It seemed like what you would normally see in a fairly significant crash. I didn’t feel right and I knew I wasn’t 100 percent.”

The common theme when it comes to drivers and concussions is whether drivers admit to having one instead of just trying to put up with it.

Just look at Reddick’s situation. He passed all of his neurological tests at the picture medical center; NASCAR uses the King-Devick test that is used in other professional sports as a quick neurological analysis on the side. He said that the next day he was back to normal and also passed all the tests that were done later in the week.

So was it a mistake to get out of the car? Reddick said that even if he was in contention for a championship, if he had felt as bad as he did at Martinsville, he would have gotten out of the car.

“I was showing symptoms [of a concussion]Reddick said. “It was the right move to get out of the car. So if that were to happen again, I don’t care if I’m leading, running last, whatever. I’ve finished. … If I’m ever in that situation again, I don’t continue.”

Bowman also said he knew he couldn’t race once concussion symptoms appeared three days after his accident in Texas. In fact, he was fine for a few days before suffering headaches and other concussion symptoms.

It took him four weeks before leading concussion expert Dr. Micky Collins cleared him to compete. Bowman said he had two weeks where he felt good without a bad day before he got back in the race car.

“There were days when I felt good,” Bowman said. “And that was probably two weeks later, I started having days where the whole day I felt totally good. And I get some confidence and the next day I feel good and I have some confidence.”

“And then I had a day that just wiped me out. And it was super frustrating.”

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Thinking out loud

The NASCAR National Series start times are out and there were three that will make fans and competitors smile.

The Clash kicks off under the lights at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, adding to the spectacle of that event. It will make a cool event even cooler.

That wasn’t a temperature reference, but the next comment is: the summer races at Nashville and Atlanta will now be night races instead of daytime heat races. Now that’s great as far as a break from the heat.

Nashville had a slightly later start time this year, but a full night race at both tracks will be good for the comfort of fans and drivers. Atlanta goes from mid-afternoon to late night.

How the time change affects the race remains to be seen: sometimes more grip at night doesn’t help the final product. But if people are miserable in the stands and on the track after a full day in the sun, that doesn’t help the fan experience. Hopefully these moves will help.

social focus

they said it

“We already came up with a new slogan: three in 23 made sense.” joey logano in search of a third Cup title in 2023

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the last 30 Daytona 500, with stints on ESPN, Sporting News, the NASCAR Scene Magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrassand enroll within the FOX Sports activities NASCAR E-newsletter with Bob Pockrass.


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