Drivers Weigh in After Safety Meeting With NASCAR: ‘Took Way Too Long’

Joey Logano

Getty Joey Logano weighed in on matter of Next Gen safety.

Cup Series drivers took part in a safety meeting on October 8  with key executives from the sanctioning body. They cleared the air during the ‘tense’ session but there is still a lot of work that remains.

There were a variety of speakers on hand for the session. The list included NASCAR President Steve Phelps, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Innovation John Probst, and NASCAR Managing Director of Safety Engineering John Patalak. The list also incldued NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France and NASCAR Chief Operating Officer Steve O’Donnell.

Multiple drivers provided some brief thoughts on the matter after the meeting that lasted more than an hour. They didn’t provide many details about the back-and-forth other than saying that they are on the right path. The drivers just aren’t happy with where they are at this moment in regard to Next Gen safety.

“Yeah, I feel much better. I feel like the meeting was very open and honest, which I feel like was necessary for all the drivers to get some things off their chest and their real concerns of what we’ve been going through and the experiences from inside the car,” Joey Logano said after winning the pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“The frustrating part is it took way too long to have that meeting. That meeting should have happened Monday after Kurt [Busch]’s crash, not waiting until Alex [Bowman] had his crash and at least hear us out. I’m not saying they weren’t working on it after Kurt’s crash, but the communication in person is so important.”

Logano continued and explained that the meetings about safety should happen “before they are needed” instead of after the fact. He noted that the drivers delivered that message and that there is a plan to take care of the issues from rear impacts.

Another Driver Had a Quieter Press Conference

Denny Hamlin

GettyDenny Hamlin did not have as many comments about the Next Gen car at the Roval.

There have been two drivers that have led the way with strong comments about the Next Gen car — Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick. The situation slightly changed after the meeting with NASCAR.

“I think there’s a sense of urgency on their part, yes,” Hamlin said about NASCAR. He continued and acknowledged that having him and Harvick “press the issue” in the media contributed to this meeting with NASCAR ultimately taking part.

Hamlin was more reserved during his media availability while saying that the meeting was “uneventful but informative.” He explained that the reason for his quieter availability was that “not all of the soundbites” need to come from him. Hamlin added that others can “have their say” now after he and Harvick brought the conversation to the forefront.

Hamlin and Logano were not the only drivers that provided some thoughts on the meeting. Christopher Bell described it as tense while Brad Keselowski referred to it as “Festivus,” the holiday celebrated on December 23. One of the practices during the holiday is the “airing of grievances.”

NASCAR Will Implement a Big Change for the 2023 Season

One of the biggest points of emphasis for the drivers is the severity of the rear impacts. These hits are the ones that led to both Kurt Busch and Alex Bowman missing multiple races with concussion symptoms.

NASCAR took steps to address this particular problem prior to the weekend at the Charlotte Roval. A crash test took place in Ohio earlier in the week as NASCAR tried out a new rear bumper and rear clip.

NASCAR presented data from this crash test during the safety meeting with the drivers and informed them that there will be an updated rear clip, bumper structure, and center clip on the Next Gen cars during the 2023 season.

According to Bell, there is still some information that the drivers need. He said that NASCAR had more slides to show during the session but that the open conversation took over the session. There is still a possibility that another meeting will take place prior to the Cup Series race.

“At this point, I feel like I’ve said everything I can on the safety thing,” Hamlin added. “I wouldn’t change anything, but now we wait on the results. We heard what they said they’re going to do and now we wait and see the results over the next three to six months.”

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