May 5th, 2016
As the NASCAR community continues to process the wild race that took place last Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, questions about restrictor-plate racing and safety have been raised by many following the conclusion of the event.
However, for team owner Richard Childress – who saw all three of his cars sustain damage in the 500-mile event – he understands restrictor-plate is inherently dangerous, but pointed out that NASCAR has made great strides in making the sport safer overall.
Childress made his first NASCAR start during the inaugural start at Talladega Superspeedway, a race in which many of the sport’s top drivers boycotted the event over safety concerns. The speedway has remained one of the most formidable in the sport and seen some of NASCAR’s wildest crashes.
“I raced the very first race there in 1969. In ’73, we piled up everybody up on the backstretch as bad as one of the ones we had this weekend. We’ve had cars go out of the racetrack. That’s part of speedway racing. It’s always going to be there unless you do something drastic to the racetrack,” Childress told to NASCAR SiriusXM Speedway host Dave Moody.
“The greatest thing about our sport today, although those cars have horrific crashes no drivers were injured,” said Childress. “We have come so far since 2001 in safety. Anything can happen. Freak accidents can happen. You saw the crash that Austin (Dillon) had at Daytona. All it would have took would have been one little different thing in that accident that could have made it a totally different outcome.”
Instead, everyone involved in the incident was able to walk away unharmed. Childress quickly pointed out the safety innovations implemented by NASCAR and put in place by the teams over the last 15 years made all the difference last July, allowing Dillon to climb from the terrible crash unscathed.
“If we all look back, losing Dale was a terrible, terrible, terrible thing for all of us, and we all miss him just like (it was) yesterday, but safety has come so far with the soft walls, the seats, the driver compartments,” he said. “Everything today is so much safer than it was. NASCAR, I can’t say enough great things about how much they concentrate on making these cars safer week-in and week-out.
“Hats off to NASCAR for what a great job they’ve done.”