Brendan Gaughan says NASCAR has done ‘phenomenal job' on safety improvements

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Posted at 8:33 PM, Feb 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-22 01:16:36-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Ryan Newman’s crash at the Dayton 500 is a reminder of how dangerous racing is, but his quick recovery is also a testament to the changes NASCAR has made when it comes to safety.

“[The car] I sat in back in 1997 in my first NASCAR races is nowhere near like what it is now,” said NASCAR driver Brendan Gaughan.

Gaughan, also a longtime friend of Newman’s, witnessed the 42-year-old’s crash firsthand.

He also knows what Newman is going through. Gaughan was involved in a similar crash at Talladega Super Speedway in 2019.

“NASCAR has already done a phenomenal job,” Gaughan said. “I think people make knee-jerk reactions. You see the fans blowing up. NASCAR will look at [the crash], and if there’s something that can be gained, they will [take action].”

NASCAR safety policies have evolved since Dale Earnhardt’s death in 2001.

For example, vehicle cockpits have been redesigned, concrete safety barriers have been replaced, and all drivers now wear a neck and head restraint.

“[NASCAR] analyzes [crashes],” Gaughan said. “They do computer modeling [and] find out what they can do to make the next generation even safer.”

Gaughan says NASCAR officials will probably analyze Newman’s crash if they haven’t already.

For now, he’s just happy his friend is recovering.

“Ryan, with his two babies? The greatest thing I could see,” Gaughan said.

NASCAR officials plan to hold a press conference regarding safety Saturday morning at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.