A race that was filled with fantastic four to five wide racing, plenty of great racing action, and a California kid taking home the checkered flag, had a scary moment on Sunday.
Matt Kenseth’s No. 20 PEAK Toyota Camry found the inside retaining wall at Auto Club Speedway with 16 laps to go after slight contact with Martin Truex Jr’s No 78 Toyota Camry. Kenseth did his best to lock the car down to avoid a head-on collision with the wall.
The 2003 Champion’s Camry angled out towards the track, but continued to slide into the wall driver side first. The hit virtually snapped the left front tire into a 50 degree angle – something that isn’t seen very often in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series crash, and is often the result of a violent hit with a retaining wall. Thankfully the wall Kenseth hit, was a SAFER Barrier, a wall designed to extract all energy from the car to avoid injury to a driver by its use to steel and foam construction. Kenseth, who has finished first in three spring events at the track, would settle for a 36th place finish.
Kenseth radioed to his crew after the wreck, sounding shaken up from the uncommon angle of the hit.
“Uh, I am okay. But I wouldn’t say I am as okay as I was last week'”.
Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s executive vice president, stated in an interview with Sirius XM NASCAR Radio, that actions are being taken to evaluate the situation, as well as the car itself, and the wall.
“We’ll download all the data, in this case from the incident data recorder; we’ll talk to Matt; we will inspect the car with all of our safety engineers and all of our safety engineers and kind of combine all that data and look at the angle and the speed and scrub and all the data to make sure that we have the best possible outcome”.
“One of the things … pointed out was the angle of the wall”, O’Donnell stated. “It’s positioned that way for the safety equipment, but are there tweaks we can make? We’ve done that numerous times in terms of you see a crash that you never thought would happen and it kind of opens some eyes. You say, ‘OK, is there a better way to potentially angle this wall?”
As of this article, NASCAR nor the speedway have announced any changes to the track, or given a timeline for when a change would be announced.