DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Since the death of Dale Earnhardt in 2001, NASCAR has taken sweeping steps to reduce the risk of head injuries. And when a driver does get hurt, NASCAR officials have established more comprehensive protocols to identify, track and treat concussions.
While NASCAR officials are proud of the progress they've made on safety, they know nothing is guaranteed at 200 mph.
``It's an inherently dangerous sport,'' said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR's senior vice president of racing operations. ``We've got to be the best, on the front end and, we think, on the back end.''
Under NASCAR's policy, any driver who is involved in a significant crash must go to the infield medical center. Even drivers who are able to drive their wrecked cars back to the garage area may be ordered to get checked out.
``If you hit the wall, you can probably bet you're going to be at the care center,'' O'Donnell said. ``We're not the most popular people all the time.''
Once at the medical center, the driver will be checked for signs of a concussion as a standard procedure. If members of the track's medical crew suspect a concussion, the driver will be sent to a local hospital.
Before a concussed driver can race again, he or she must be cleared by a neurosurgeon with at least five years' experience with sports-related head injuries.
``So that neurosurgeon is the ultimate go/no go in terms of coming back to competition,'' O'Donnell said.
Information from a crash data recorder on board each car is analyzed, and wrecked cars often are brought back to NASCAR's research and development center for examination. If NASCAR safety experts notice anything wrong with the car that might have contributed to an injury, they can sit down with the driver's team to advise them on potential safety improvements.
The next step for NASCAR could be the use of baseline cognitive testing, something that is optional for drivers now. O'Donnell said officials still may consider making it mandatory.

Recent NASCAR Discussions

Daytona 500 Betting News and Notes on Sun, Feb 2017 by Blade
Daytona 500 Contest From Man Crates on Sun, Feb 2017 by Michael Cash
Can-Am Duels Betting News and Notes on Thu, Feb 2017 by Blade
Advance Auto Parts Clash Betting News and Notes on Sun, Feb 2017 by Michael Cash
2017 NASCAR Changes on Wed, Feb 2017 by Michael Cash
Advertisement
Advertisement

NASCAR Odds

Driver Odds
Daytona 500 - Odds to Win @ Daytona International Speedway
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. #88 +450
Denny Hamlin #11 +600
Kyle Busch #18 +750
Brad Keselowski #2 +800
Joey Logano #22 +900

Nascar Top Stories

Thumbnail Daytona 500 Picks Which driver will open the 2017 NASCAR season with a win in the biggest race, the Daytona 500? Here’s our picks for...
Thumbnail NextEra Energy Resources 250 Picks The NASCAR Camping World Truck Seriesgets its season underway tonight with the NextEra Energy Resources...
Thumbnail Powershares QQQ 300 Odds The NASCAR Xfinity Series kicks off its season this weekend with the running of the Powershares QQQ 300. Here is a...
Thumbnail NASCAR Can-Am Duel #2 Betting Odds Even though it’s his first official NASCAR start since July of 2016, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is still favored by oddsmakers to win tomorrow night’s NASCAR Can-Am Duel #2...
Thumbnail Keselowski favored in Can-Am Duel #1 Brad Keselowski - one of the strongest cars in the Advanced Auto Parts Clash at Daytona is Favored in tomorrow’s NASCAR Can-Am Duel #1 from Daytona International...
Advertisement