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Notes: NASCAR Drivers OK With Safety Teams

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, May 21 2015
Kevin Harvick is confident that NASCAR safety precautions are adequate. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

Kevin Harvick is confident that NASCAR safety precautions are adequate. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

CONCORD, N.C. – With four crashes this month during preparations for the Indianapolis 500, one which left James Hinchcliffe hospitalized in ICU, the question as to whether NASCAR should have a traveling medical team has once again come to the forefront.

bugnotesNASCAR has nurses who are familiar with the drivers and their medical records travel with its top three touring series. However, doctors from the community where the races are held staff the infield care centers. Whether NASCAR should have a traveling medical staff has been debated since the 1980s. It’s an issue that defending NASCAR champion Kevin Harvick said was discussed with the sanctioning body the second week of the season.

“Once they explained the process and how the doctors were chosen was definitely kind of eye-opening as to how much money and time was spent to make sure they had the right people at every race track,” Harvick said Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “I don’t think anybody is saying that it can’t always be better, but I feel pretty confident in what the process is and the medical staff that we have at the tracks.”

Harvick noted that some of the doctors had lengthy service at the various tracks.

NASCAR six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson said he had sat in several discussions with NASCAR about why the current system is in place.

“NASCAR is adamant that having true ER folks that every single day fight in an ER room to save people’s lives are the best people to have in place here on a weekend for us,” Johnson said. “In my heart, I feel like there is maybe a hybrid version where, yes, we have those EMTs here, but then we also have people that are very sharp and NASCAR specific, car specific, know the drivers and know our cockpits.

“I know that NASCAR briefs them and works with them on all of that, but with Hinchcliffe’s crash and then going back to (Alex) Zanardi’s crash … everybody knows that crew saved Alex’s life two or three times before he ever got to the hospital. However they make it work they do an awesome job doing it. Again, I’ve sat in many conversations with NASCAR and they truly believe that they have the safest environment for us.”

Busch More Worried About Wins, Than Points

Kyle Bush, who rode a motorized cart into the Charlotte Motor Speedway infield media center and passed out Skittles along the way, said Thursday he’s more concerned about winning a race than breaking into the top 30 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings.

Busch missed the season’s first 11 races due to injuries he suffered in the season opening Xfinity Series race at Daytona. NASCAR waved his absence from those races and said he could make the Chase if he won a race and was in the top 30 in the point standings. That’s the same requirement for all of the drivers who are victorious in the season’s first 26 races.

“I feel like the top 30 (in points) is relatively achievable,” Busch said. “There’s no reason why I shouldn’t average better than a 16th place finish. Joe Gibbs Racing is better than that, my race team is better than that and I feel like I’m better than that.”

Busch pointed to Dover, Watkins Glen, Indianapolis and Richmond as potential victory tracks.

“There’s a lot of races in between that we’re pretty confident we can run well at; we just have to,” Busch said. “I’ve won at some of those places before, like Michigan for instance. Bristol is in there. Darlington; I love going to Darlington. All those places I feel like we can run well at. It’s just a matter of putting all the pieces together, having a good night and being able to accomplish that feat.”

Johnson Shocked at NASCAR’s Warning

Jimmie Johnson said Thursday he was “very shocked” when his team received a warning for pulling out his Chevrolet’s side skirts during the final pit stop in last weekend’s Sprint All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“I think leaving the race track NASCAR was upset and thought there was a lot more intent and something going wrong with the side skirt being pulled out,” Johnson said. “Then as video became available and they looked through it and watched and saw what was done, it calmed down. We were shocked to hear that there was an issue and actually we had crash damage on the right-side of the car.”

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, May 21 2015
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