Drivers call for more SAFER barriers; NASCAR, Daytona heed call

In the wake of Kyle Busch’s nasty wreck in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway, which sidelined him indefinitely with leg and foot fractures, many of the sport’s top drivers called on NASCAR to implement SAFER barriers at all tracks.

While NASCAR has made strides since 2001 to install the softer SAFER barriers, there are still locations at some tracks that remain concrete, including the long stretch of wall Busch hit in Saturday’s race.

"I don’t want to say anything wrong. But I think we’re to the point now in NASCAR we should have SAFER barriers at a place like this, we’re going so fast. I think we could probably afford it," Ty Dillon said after learning of Busch’s injury. "I hate to hear anybody in our sport getting hurt. We’ve advanced so far in safety, we shouldn’t be having any crazy, bad injuries.

"So hope he’s all right. But, yeah, I know if it was me, I would want a SAFER barrier there if I got hurt in a spot," he said.

Second-place finisher Chris Buescher agreed with his fellow competitor.

"That’s something we’ve seen through the years develop and turn into, you know, kind of a reactive cause," Buescher said. "We keep running into situations where people find spots that aren’t thought of before.

"I think the sport has progressed so far in the safety aspect," he said. "We started to take it for granted. But just there’s really no room to do that. My opinion, I mean, it needs to be as safe as possible. If that means lining the inside walls as well, it’s probably a good idea."

At 8:15 p.m. ET, Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood III and NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell met with the media and confirmed steps will be taken to rectify the problem.

"The Daytona International Speedway did not live up to its responsibility today," Chitwood said. "We should have had a SAFER barrier there, and we did not. We’re going to fix that. We’re going to fix that right now." 

Track workers began installing tire packs along the section of wall hit by Busch Saturday evening, and Chitwood vowed to go further to cover "every inch" of the speedway with SAFER barriers. 

"This is not going to happen again," he said. "We’re going to live up to our responsibility. We’re going to fix this, and it starts right now." 

O’Donnell echoed Chitwood’s comments.

"What happened tonight should not have happened," O’Donnell said. "That’s on us we’re going to fix it and we’re going to fix it immediately. … I think we all know racing is an inherintly dangerous sport, but our priority is safety and we’ll continue to put things in place to make this sport as safe as possible."

Criticized by some for not allocating money for SAFER barriers amid a multi-million dollar renovation of the track, Chitwood vowed cost would not be a concern moving forward. 

"Come Monday, we’re going to start the plan so we can put SAFER barriers everywhere here," Chitwood said. "Finances don’t come into play. That’s really not a question. We’re going to get this fixed and we’re going to make sure we’re ready for the next event."

Prior to the comments by Chitwood and O’Donnell, many of Busch’s fellow Sprint Cup competitors, as well as some of their wives, took to Twitter to call on NASCAR to use SAFER barriers everywhere.