Sports

August 15, 2014

NASCAR orders drivers not to exit cars after crashes

NASCAR says it is “formalizing” rules that have already been in place.

NASCAR added a rule Friday ordering drivers to not approach the track or moving cars after accidents. The announcement comes less than a week after a driver was struck and killed during a dirt-track race in New York.

If a car is involved in an accident and can no longer keep going — and no extenuating circumstances exist such as smoke in the cockpit or fire — the driver should not loosen any personal safety equipment until directed to do so by safety personnel or a NASCAR or track official.

After being told to exit the car, the driver should proceed to an emergency vehicle or as otherwise directed.

“Really, we’re formalizing rules that have been there,” Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president of competition and racing development, said at Michigan International Speedway. “It’s reminders that take place during drivers meetings with drivers about on-track accidents. We’re just formalizing this and it’s something that we worked on this week.”

The rule takes effect immediately and applies to all of NASCAR’s series. Violations will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

NASCAR star Tony Stewart is skipping this weekend’s Sprint Cup race at MIS. Last Saturday, Stewart’s car hit and killed Kevin Ward Jr. at a sprint-car event in Canandaigua, N.Y. After Stewart appeared to clip Ward’s car, sending it spinning, Ward left the car during the caution period, walked down the track and was hit by Stewart.

IndyCar reviewed its safety guidelines after Ward’s death and the protocol is similar to what NASCAR announced, IndyCar spokesman Mike Kitchel said.

It remains to be seen how NASCAR will enforce its provision, and how much the threat of penalties will deter drivers.

“Will that stop a driver that’s really upset?” NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson said. “I don’t know. It’s hard to say.”

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