There are only two more NASCAR Cup Series superspeedway races remaining before the current generation of car gets replaced by the Next-Gen but Joey Logano is still pushing for diligence in the name of safety.
The 2018 champion was involved in a rollover crash on the final lap of the first stage on Sunday during the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway and the results could have been much worse.
Numerous drivers said after the race that NASCAR must keep the cars grounded during superspeedway crashes.
During a Wednesday appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, Logano says he was perilously close to experiencing the same type of incident as the one that hospitalized Ryan Newman after the final lap of the 2020 Daytona 500.
Similar to Newman, Logano went airborne in front of traffic, with Bubba Wallace just barely avoiding the upside-down Team Penske No. 22 Ford Mustang after it blew over. Newman was struck by Corey Lajoie and was in the hospital for two days while recovering from a brain contusion.
NASCAR ordered safety changes in the aftermath of that crash with the hopes of keeping the cars on the ground, but Logano said there is still work to be done, even if only a single Cup race remains at Daytona and Talladega, respectively.
“I want to be an advocate for change for our sport to look at ways to be better,” Logano said on the air. “I know we have the Next Gen car coming. We think that will be better but we have two more races on superspeedways this year and we must do something because we cannot afford to lose one of our competitors.”
Logano says NASCAR needs to target a reduction of the 9″ spoiler that is used on superspeedways. The current competition formula also utilizes a 1″ wicker to the spoiler.
“The spoiler creates, in my opinion, the runs that we see,” Logano said. “The big runs that create the pushes and the shoves. Cars don’t crash in the corners anymore. They crash down the straightaways from pushing.
“We need to create a little bit more bubble and more space between cars like we used to have. We’ll still have pack racing, just like we’ve always had. We’ll still have the big one, but it won’t happen as frequently, and I think that is good. Also, with the big spoiler, when the car goes backwards, it’s creating lift and maybe not allowing the roof flaps to do its job, either.
“Those things, to me, (are) probably the easiest fix. It sounds like a quick, easy fix … obviously, you’ve got to balance it with the splitter and then you have to adjust the engine package to go with it because the drag you would be taking off the car would be drastic. There are ripple effects that have to go through engine guys, team owners, drivers, everyone would have to get on the same page, competition directors.”
The rear spoiler creates the drag needed to complete passes with the 550 horsepower engine formula, but it also creates an increased risk of takeoff when cars get turned sideways.
The incident on Sunday began when Logano got turned sideways on the backstretch due to contact from behind by Denny Hamlin, who himself was tagged by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. As Logano came down the banking, he was hit by Stenhouse which turned the car backwards and sent the No. 22 up into the air.
Ride with @BubbaWallace as he avoids @joeylogano’s No. 22 car entering Turn 3. #GEICO500 pic.twitter.com/fYffLmVXHB
Bubba Wallace drove under and around the rear of the No. 22 as it landed on its roof — just missing a similar outcome to the 2020 Daytona 500 crash.
Logano’s car rolled over again and landed on all four wheels before coming to a stop. The team asked if the car was capable of driving off but Logano said the roll cage was pressing against his helmet, presenting yet another safety concern.
The weight from the collapsed roof also jammed his safety net shut, which could have trapped Logano in the car had it caught fire.
Logano said he spoke with NASCAR executives on Sunday after returning home from Talladega. He praised the continued commitment to safety from the sanctioning body but says NASCAR’s can’t take the next two races off.
“We’re going to make it better, no matter what, because we have a lot of smart people with big hearts that care,” Logano said. “That’s exciting for me. (I) look forward to see what comes up here the next few weeks.”
Team Penske competition director Travis Geisler agreed with his driver on Sunday night that a rear spoiler reduction could be a safety target to consider over the next several months.
“When you get backwards with that much kind of in the air, it’s a lot to deal with,” Geisler said. “That’s something we’ll try to learn. There’s only two more left, but one more race left is too many if you’re not 100 percent sure you’re as safe as you can be. We’ll do what we can there, try to learn with the NASCAR folks, try to address anything we can. Certainly car-wise, we’ll do the same.”
The final Daytona race of the Gen-6 era will be the regular season finale on August 28. The final race of this era at Talladega will take place in the playoffs on October 3.
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