Driver safety is always an issue for NASCAR, but it vaulted back into the headlines when Kyle Busch suffered a compound fracture in his right leg and a broken left foot in late February at Daytona International Speedway.
Busch skidded off the track and crunched into an infield wall, which was not protected with a SAFER barrier, during an Xfinity Series race Feb. 21 on the season’s opening weekend.
Many drivers, including Sprint Cup points leader Kevin Harvick, who crashed into the same wall at Daytona a year earlier, went public with pleas for safer track conditions after Busch’s wreck.
Apparently, Kansas Speedway — which installed SAFER barriers, or Steel and Foam Energy Reduction barriers, along its track walls in 2004 — was listening, as it announced several safety improvement Wednesday ahead of next month’s NASCAR races.
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The 1.5-mile tri-oval in Kansas City, Kan., will host the Camping World Trucks Series Toyota Tundra 250 on May 8 and the Sprint Cup Series SpongeBob SquarePants 400 on May 9.
After an internal review by Kansas Speedway’s owner, the International Speedway Corp., in conjunction with NASCAR, two sand barrels will be installed at the leading edge of the pit-road exit, an additional tire pack will be installed at the pit-road entrance, and interior walls along turns two and three will be extended.
More safety enhancements are planned before the season’s second race weekend in October.
“The safety of our guests and the competitors is, and always has been, our No. 1 priority,” Kansas Speedway president Pat Warren said in a statement. “Ongoing facility evaluations will continue and we will provide updates as circumstances warrant.”