Charlotte, N.C. Despite injuries to fans from flying debris, NASCAR is satisfied with its safety standards, saying the fence at Talladega Superspeedway did what it was supposed to do — keep Carl Edwards’ car out of the grandstands.
In a spectacular last-lap accident, Edwards’ car sailed upside-down into the frontstretch fence, which bowed but held, before the battered vehicle returned to the track. Blake Bobbitt, one of seven injured by debris, remained hospitalized Monday with a broken jaw.
“One of our primary goals over the years is to build a retaining fence that keeps the cars and parts and pieces out of the spectator areas. Nothing is bullet-proof,” NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said Monday. “The retaining fence did what it’s supposed to do. There was some debris that went into the grandstand, that fortunately did not invoke serious injury. If there is something we come up with as we analyze this accident ... we’ll make it as safe as we humanly can.”
The frightening ending marred what was easily NASCAR’s best race of the season. There were 57 lead changes among 25 different drivers and a nail-biting last-lap charge from Edwards and Brad Keselowski, who teamed together to run down Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
NASCAR vice president Robin Pemberton acknowledged the fine line between creating exciting racing and keeping the competitors safe.
“It’s tough to balance out,” he said. “Our series is 22 different race tracks ... with speeds from 100 mph to well over 200 mph, and not every driver likes every race track that we run on. That’s part of our season, and that’s part of what makes it work.”