Safety precautions may have saved Gordon’s life |

Safety precautions may have saved Gordon’s life

Roger Diez
Nevada Appeal Motorsports Columnist

Watching Jeff Gordon’s horrendous crash at Pocono last Sunday, I couldn’t help but think that the safety programs implemented by NASCAR and the tracks around the country were significant in Gordon’s survival.

Six or seven years ago, without the SAFER barriers, HANS device, and other improvements to seat and cage design, we might well be mourning yet another great racing champion’s death. Prior to Dale Earnhardt’s death at the 2001 Daytona 500, many of us in the racing press had been urging NASCAR to take steps to improve driver safety, and I have to say that the sanctioning body, while not moving rapidly, has made a concerted and deliberate effort that culminated in Jeff Gordon’s uninjured exit from a truly scary crash.

As for the Pocono race itself, I’m going to have to move the Joe Gibbs team up a couple of notches in my own team scoring system. Rookie Denny Hamlin’s performance in that race definitely qualifies him as a bona fide prodigy. How many Nextel Cup veterans could suffer a flat tire while leading, drop back to 40th place, and come back through the field for a dominant victory at one of the toughest tracks on the circuit?

And remember, it was Hamlin’s first outing at Pocono! And for a bonus, the victory vaulted Hamlin into the Chase for the Championship, at ninth in points. Gibbs Racing teammate Tony Stewart seems pretty well recovered from his shoulder injury, finishing in the top five as well. Look out Roush and Hendrick teams. The Gibbs juggernaut is close in your rear view mirror.

My IRL connection recently forwarded me a post from concerning the latest Indy 500 conspiracy theory. I’m not going to insert the whole post here, just the basic contention by a Champ Car fan that the race was scripted all the way, and that Tony George and Brian Barnhart staged all the wrecks and yellows and back flags and stuck/broken fuel hoses, punctured tires, and everything that would ensure a win for Hornish and yet another loss for the Andrettis.

Strangely, the IRL fan noted that there was possible evidence of the Champ Car conspiracy theorist being right about Tony George’s treachery. He noted that in the post-race interview with Hornish, there were distinct sounds of Indy cars at speed in the background, when there should have been no cars on course. Perhaps Jack Arute and ABC/ESPN recorded the interview two weeks before the race, when Tony George and Brian Barnhart decided that Roger Penske had paid the right amount and Hornish should win?

If you have any thoughts on this subject, please address them to Trackforum. Com. I’m just the messenger.

If you are thinking about attending the Nextel Cup race at Infineon Raceway next weekend, but haven’t yet bought tickets or arranged transportation, here’s a deal for you. Infineon Raceway is offering a “Ride the Bus” program for race fans throughout Northern California and Nevada. For $130, fans can ride a bus from locations as far away as Reno to the racetrack and back.

The cost includes a premium-reserved seat for Sunday’s race (June 25) and a commemorative souvenir race program, which is $145 if purchased separately. A complete list of locations is available on the Internet at or by calling 1-800-870 RACE (7223).