Las Vegas Motor Speedway making safety modifications ahead of races
"NASCAR on Monday conducted a thorough inspection of the racing conditions here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway," LVMS track president Chris Powell said in a statement released late Tuesday. "NASCAR has requested that we make several minor modifications adjacent to both the 1.5-mile oval and the openings on pit road. At the conclusion of this weekend's Kobalt 400 and Boyd Gaming 300, we will reconvene with NASCAR regarding any long-term alterations."
With 70 laps to go in Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Jeff Gordon's No. 24 Chevrolet struck the track's concrete infield wall nearly head on, just a couple of feet past where the SAFER barrier ended.
"Then I got out and I looked and I saw, 'Oh, wow, big surprise. I found the one wall here on the back straightaway that doesn't have a SAFER barrier.'"
The incident came just eight days after Kyle Busch's high-impact wreck in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway, where his No. 54 Toyota also hit an area of the wall that lacked a SAFER barrier covering.
Busch suffered a compound fracture of his lower right leg, and a mid-foot break of the left foot as a result of the incident, and was forced to sit out out the next day's Daytona 500 after being taken to Halifax Health Center in Daytona Beach. While hospitalized in Daytona, Busch underwent surgery on his right leg before being transported to a Charlotte, N.C. hospital the following Tuesday morning.
Busch, who underwent surgery on his left mid-foot fracture while hospitalized in Charlotte, was finally able to go home on Feb. 27, but faces a lengthy, uphill recovery period. A timetable for his return to his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota — being driven for now by substitute driver David Ragan — has not been given.
While numerous tracks, including Daytona and Atlanta, have already begun taking steps toward improving safety since Busch's wreck, the issue remains at the forefront of everyone's minds after incidents in the first two weekends of the 2015 NASCAR season.
"We have accelerated our review of safety advancements at each of our racing venues," the statement said. "This is an ongoing process that we will continue to approach aggressively and steadfastly in working with our track partners in the areas of safety."