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Except for pit road, Daytona has finished installation of SAFER barrier

IRWIN Tools Night Race

IRWIN Tools Night Race

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Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood told ESPN that the track has completed installation of SAFER barrier on all of its inside and outside walls.

The only place it hasn’t been added is on pit road.

Kyle Busch crashed head-on into a wall without SAFER barrier inside Turn 1 and injured both legs late in last year’s Xfinity Series race. Busch missed 11 Sprint Cup races before making his return and winning the Sprint Cup title.

The following day on the morning of the Daytona 500, defending Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick had strong words for NASCAR and its lack of SAFER barrier at many tracks on the circuit.

Harvick said he hit the wall not far from where Busch did a year before and later voiced his opinion to NASCAR

“Unfortunately, I was just a dot on the chart, and there was no reaction,” Harvick said. “Now there’s a reaction from the racetrack. Hopefully, this is a lesson learned. You don’t want to have a reaction. The racetracks have to be proactive and have to look ahead for accidents that might happen.

Denny Hamlin said during a teleconference with reporters Wednesday that the installation is part of a “well-thought-out plan” NASCAR has for all its tracks that came about after Busch’s accident.

“I know that they’re putting tens of millions of dollars into SAFER barriers over the next 20 months or so,” Hamlin said. “Most of that has been completed, about 60 to 70 percent of the work has already been done, and so there’s just a few places left at some of these racetracks that isn’t covered.”

Pocono has added 6,600 feet of SAFER barrier with an additional 5,100 feet of SAFER barrier to be added before the 2017 season.

Kentucky Speedway has installed 3,200 additional feet of SAFER barrier. Atlanta Motor Speedway is installing 4,742 linear feet of SAFER on both the front and back stretches in addition to inside sections of all four turns not yet equipped.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway said in October a plan is in place to install more SAFER barrier before the March 6 Sprint Cup race.

Hamlin said drivers do notice when they’re driving on tracks inches away from walls that don’t have SAFER barriers in a key area or not at all.

“It does cross our mind, and it’s something that we talk about more openly now than ever,” Hamlin said.

The JGR driver also said that the Driver’s Council, which was founded in 2015, has helped things move along.

“That’s something that we like to have a large influence in -- is driver safety and what we can do to make our sport safer,” Hamlin said.

Almost a year after Harvick felt like a dot, Hamlin says similar complaints are “not falling on deaf ears by any means, and I feel like part of the Council has helped us get this done.”

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