Gordon’s hard hit could have been worse

Last Saturday night, during our NASCAR on FOX broadcast, we were keeping track of Jeff Gordon’s comments over the radio after his wreck.

Unfortunately, it seems once again that Jeff is the poster child for finding areas on a racetrack that NASCAR or the racetrack haven’t identified as needing SAFER barriers.

It was an extremely hard hit that Gordon took in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race Saturday.

Any time you hit with the driver’s side, it will get your attention. I think once again we have to be thankful NASCAR moved the driver a little more to the center as part of its new-model car. The cockpit area is safer, with the seat and all the safety apparatus.

As you heard Gordon say, it knocked the breath out of him. If you can do something to lessen that, well, then more power to you.

We’ve seen enough hard impacts so far this year that we, obviously, have to say NASCAR has done a great job as far as safety is concerned.

Like we always tell you, however, safety is a moving target.

NASCAR and the tracks will continually evaluate where the SAFER barriers need to be because it just seems like these cars find the weirdest places to hit on a track. So anything that can be done to eliminate any safety concerns, we all will be better for it.

Now as far as Gordon is concerned, at his age, these are the kind of hits I bet he can definitely live without. Sure, everybody knows it is part of the sport. Everyone also knows that the older you get, in any sport, it doesn’t get any easier.

The SAFER barriers are one of the greatest safety devices ever to be introduced into our sport. Those reduce the amount of energy that is transferred to the driver.

That’s the beauty of these new race cars and what NASCAR has tried to do from a safety aspect.

Go run and jump on a bed. Feel the bounce? Now go run and jump on the ground. There is no give. All that energy goes right back into you. There is no dissipation of energy. This new structure of the race car helps to greatly dissipate the energy away from the driver.

There is also now foam insulation on both sides of the car. That gives you that pillow effect before the energy reaches the roll cage itself.

That helps eliminate the spike affect of energy that is absorbed by the driver. It’s a huge difference from the way the cars were back in the day when I was a crew chief. Depending on the angle of the hit, these new SAFER barriers can reduce the energy anywhere from 25 to 50 percent.

So it is a massive step forward in protecting these drivers.

The other positive side effect is sometimes that SAFER barrier gives just enough to save the race car. So equipment is saved, along with that driver. Any chance you have of saving a car and being able to use it another day saves the teams time and money.

Go ask a driver and a team, and they will quickly tell you how much they all love the SAFER barriers.