NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
 
     === NASCAR looking at Larson's car, fencing in Daytona crash probe ===
 
 Avondale,  AZ (Sports  Network)  -  NASCAR plans  to  thoroughly examine  Kyle
 Larson's car and the catch fence in its investigation of last week's multi-car
 crash  at Daytona  International Speedway, which injured at least 28 race fans
 in the grandstands.
 
 During a press conference on Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway, NASCAR
 senior vice president of racing operations Steve O'Donnell provided details of
 the sanctioning body's ongoing investigation of the incident.
 
 The accident, involving 12 cars, occurred on the frontstretch during the final
 lap  of  the 300-mile  Nationwide Series  race at  Daytona. Rookie Kyle Larson
 flipped around and sailed into the fence before coming back down on the track.
 Flying debris from Larson's car and the fence struck dozens of spectators. Two
 people remain hospitalized in a Daytona Beach, Fla. hospital.
 
 The  front end  of Larson's No. 32  Chevrolet was ripped apart after it tore a
 gaping  hole in the catchfence. The engine and one of the tires sheared off of
 his car and lodged in the fencing. Another tire from his vehicle flew over the
 fence, which is 22 feet high, and landed in the upper deck of the grandstands.
 Neither Larson nor any other driver involved in the incident was injured.
 
 "Based  on what  happened in  Daytona, we  met immediately  with the  folks at
 Daytona  International Speedway  and have  had multiple  meetings this  week,"
 O'Donnell said in his opening remarks. "It's truly been a collaborative effort
 with the goal of doing two things - looking at what happened in this incident,
 and  more  importantly, the go forward  plan of what  we can learn and what we
 want to implement as we go forward."
 
 Even though the parts from Larson's car have been secured by NASCAR, O'Donnell
 said  that, unlike  other incidents,  the car  remained at  the racetrack  for
 personnel  at  Daytona and experts  they have brought  in to examine it during
 their investigation. The vehicle is in the process of being sent to the NASCAR
 Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C.
 
 When  the  car arrives  there, O'Donnell  said NASCAR will  first focus on its
 impact on the fence and learn how the parts were extracted.
 
 "We'll  go  through each part  of the car,"  he said. "We  want to look at how
 everything held up that was in the car, the cockpit, the tethers. There's been
 talk if the tethers broke away or not. They did not. When you look at the car,
 the  part  that the car  was tethered to sheared  the car. That's something we
 have  to look  at in advance. We've  tethered a number of different things and
 added  things to  the safety aspects of the  car, but what do we need to do in
 addition to that when we look at this accident specifically."
 
 NASCAR  plans  to  interview  members  from  Larson's  team  at  Turner  Scott
 Motorsports.  Since his  car was immediately impounded after the incident, the
 team  has not had a chance to examine it. NASCAR wants to find out how the car
 was constructed and fabricated.
 
 The  next step will  be the reconstruction of the car. NASCAR will look at all
 video  cameras  used during  the final  lap of the  race to  help them in this
 process.
 
 O'Donnell  said another aspect of NASCAR's investigation will be examining the
 fencing.  NASCAR plans to use outside experts, including Dr. Dean Sicking, who
 is  the director  of the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility and professor at the
 University  of Nebraska-Lincoln. Sicking has worked with NASCAR on many of its
 safety initiatives in the past.
 
 NASCAR  also has  a partnership  with Indianapolis  Motor Speedway,  where the
 Steel  and  Foam Energy  Reduction (SAFER)  Barrier came together. Engineering
 experts on fencing will help in the investigation as well.
 
 "We'll  use  the best  and  brightest,  and  we'll  enlist those  folks  going
 forward,"  O'Donnell said.  "We think it will validate our findings and find a
 peer review we can go to.
 
 "Concurrently  with all this, Daytona International Speedway is looking at the
 fencing, bringing in their experts. They're also in the process of bringing in
 an  outside firm to  analyze what was in place and look to what we may need to
 do going forward."
 
 O'Donnell  did  not  give  a  timetable of  when  the  investigation  will  be
 completed.  He did mention  that the first phase of the probe will look at the
 restrictor-plate racetracks (Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway). NASCAR will
 continue  its use of restrictor plates on the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series
 cars  for  the unforeseeable  future. Both  series will  race at Talladega the
 first weekend in May.
 
 The  next phase  will focus  on  all other  racetracks on  the current  series
 schedules.
 
 O'Donnell  also gave  an update on Michael Annett's accident in the Nationwide
 race  at  Daytona, which occurred  shortly before  the last-lap crash. He said
 NASCAR is currently examining his car.
 
 Annett suffered a fracture and dislocation of his sternum during the wreck. He
 underwent surgery and was released from the hospital in North Carolina earlier
 this  week. Aric Almirola is driving his No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford
 in the 200-mile race at Phoenix.
 
 "I think we're in a better position than ever to work with Michael, talk about
 what happened, what he experienced, and the recovery phase, make sure we're in
 tandem,"  O'Donnell said. "We'll certainly learn from that. We've learned from
 every  incident we've had. It's never something we want to go through. I think
 each  time we've  learned something new to  apply to the racecar or the driver
 safety system."
 
 03/02 17:43:56 ET

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