CONCORD, N.C. - The damaged cars of Ryan Newman and Corey LaJoie returned from the Daytona 500 Monday morning to the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord. After serious crashes it is common for NASCAR to look over each car to see what safety features worked and what can be improved.
FOX 46 is told the cars are essentially impounded right now, no one can touch them until NASCAR inspectors arrive to look at the damage.
Since the inception of NASCAR, crashes have been a part of the sport. When one of those crashes leaves a veteran driver seriously injured, NASCAR literally takes a step back.
At the NASCAR R&D Center every inch of Ryan Newman and Corey LaJoie’s car will analyzed.
“When you have these unique accidents like that, they take the car back and really look at it kinda like you would in an NTSB investigation. They take that mindset and find anything and everything they can to make that car safer, said Andy Petree, who serves as Vice President of Competition for Richard Childress Racing.
The R&D Center opened in 2003, replacing a much smaller version in nearby Conover. The state of the art facility opened soon after NASCAR doubled down on safety following the death of Dale Earnhardt on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.
“That is probably the number one initiative that NASCAR has. It’s safety first and then it is the competition. I think this has gone hand and hand for years. If you look at the car the past 20 years it is much safer,” said Petree.
“Before competition you have to have a car that is safe. The sport has been very fortunate not to have anything freak or weird happen for many years and a lot of that is because of the development and stride to make things better and safer,” said Daytona 500 winner, Denny Hamlin.
NASCAR has been known to take their time on crash investigations, so it could be several weeks or months until everyone finds out how the cars held up and what possible changes could be down the road.