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Danica Patrick: SAFER barriers ‘should be mandatory’ all way around tracks

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 Drive For Autism - Practice

DOVER, DE - MAY 13: Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 Nature’s Bakery/Autism Delaware Chevrolet, drives during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 Drive For Autism at Dover International Speedway on May 13, 2016 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

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Although tracks have added SAFER barriers since Kyle Busch’s accident at Daytona International Speedway last year, Danica Patrick called for more to be done Friday at Dover International Speedway.

A mechanical failure caused her car to dump oil on the track shortly after Sprint Cup practice began Friday. She hit the outside wall in Turn 4. Tony Stewart and Jamie McMurray each ran through the oil and hit the Turn 4 wall hard.

They hit in an area not protected by a SAFER barrier.

Stewart’s car hit the outside wall on the frontstretch before sliding down the track and hitting the inside wall, which is protected by a SAFER barrier.

“I know from the Talladega experience (two weeks ago) and all the experiences I’ve had hitting the wall, the ones where you hit the wall I think I saw it’s about twice the G-load impact when you hit a non-SAFER barrier,’’ Patrick said after Friday’s incident.

“It shouldn’t even be a question whether or not tracks have SAFER barrier all the way around. It should be mandatory. It shouldn’t be a financial decision.”

Dover added 479 feet of the Steel and Foam Energy Reduction barriers for this weekend. The track added 401 feet along an inside wall in Turn 3 and added 78 feet of the SAFER barrier to the existing backstretch wall.

Patrick struck the SAFER barrier with the left front at Talladega earlier this month. While sore after the incident, she didn’t suffer any injuries that kept her out of the car.

Patrick’s teammate, Kevin Harvick, said SAFER barriers should in where cars hit in Friday’s incident even if it means taking away part of the groove.

“We put SAFER barriers in the groove at Darlington and it’s two-and-a-half cars wide,” Harvick said. “So, there’s really no excuse not to have it in my opinion. SMI and all the ISC tracks have laid them on most of the outside walls. The cars have hit in that spot and there’s just no excuse not to have them.

“We don’t wear our helmets and HANS devices for the impacts that we are prepared for. We wear those things for the instances where those one-off things can happen like happened today. So, there’s no excuse not to have it there in my opinion.”

Dover is owned by Dover Motorsports.

Jimmie Johnson said he’d like to see SAFER barriers in all areas but isn’t as worried about it not being in some places.

“The outside wall here doesn’t bother me too much that it doesn’t have the SAFER barrier on it,” he said. “It’s not like a 1.5-mile (track) where we have the D-shaped front straightaway and you actually get away from the wall and if something went wrong, (you) have a terrible angle at the wall. With all that said, man, I would take a soft wall over a hard wall any day in any situation.”

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