NASCAR: Friday Kentucky Notebook

By Reid Spencer NASCAR Wire Service

After his own crash, Kyle Busch takes particular note of safety issues

SPARTA, Ky. – If any driver in the NASCAR garage has reason to pay close attention to safety issues, Kyle Busch is at the top of the list.

Busch was sidelined for 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races after breaking his right leg and left foot in an accident during the XFINITY Series race on Feb. 21 at Daytona International Speedway.

And though Busch participated in Thursday night’s UNOH 225 Camping World Truck Series race at Kentucky Speedway as a truck owner and not a driver, Ben Kennedy’s contact with the catchfence and SAFER barrier in the closing laps of the event gave him cause to reflect.

Fortunately, the fence prevented Kennedy’s truck from reaching the grandstand, just as the fencing had done early Monday morning, when Austin Dillon’s Chevrolet was launched into the containment barrier on the final lap of the Coke Zero 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona.

Busch took note of both incidents.

“As far as the catch fence and everything, I’m glad they’re there, and I’m glad they’re doing their job keeping the race cars or trucks on the race track,” Busch said on Friday at Kentucky Speedway. “It’s a dangerous sport – we live it every day. Sometimes we take it for granted because of all the safety advancements we’ve gotten over the years that we feel invincible, but certainly it’s a rare inopportune times that you can put yourself in a situation to get hurt.

“We saw it in Daytona with myself, and saw it in Daytona again with Austin Dillon and we probably saw it again last night, among other times. Those times just seem to be the most severe or scary crashes we see.”

SLIPPING AND SLIDING WITH NEW AERO PACKAGE

Judging from the comments drivers were making after they got their first track time with the new low-downforce aerodynamic package, the Sprint Cup cars are a handful to drive—by design.

“They don’t drive good, that’s for sure,” said Team Penske driver Joey Logano, who posted the fourth fastest practice time and consequently will start fourth in Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 because of a qualifying rainout. “They slide all over the place. What happens in traffic is still probably an unknown, but there was a lot of slipping and sliding around, and trying to figure out which way the car is going when you go into the corner is kind of hard.”

Logano’s teammate Brad Keselowski, the winner at Kentucky in 2012 and 2014, isn’t complaining.

“It’s a race car,” Keselowski said. “It should be hard to drive. It shouldn’t be just point and play. This isn’t a video game, nor should it be. So I’m very happy with the package and what I’ve seen so far.”

Understandably so. Keselowski was second fastest in Friday morning’s practice and will start on the outside of the front row in Saturday night’s race.

KENTUCKY COMPLETES REPAIR OF FENCING

Repairs to the catchfence and SAFER barriers at Kentucky Speedway were completed early Friday morning, after Ben Kennedy’s wreck in the UNOH 225 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race took out two support poles and knocked a hole in the fencing.

Track general manager Mark Simendinger said the facility warehouses extra poles and has a repair team on standby for rare cases of damage to the fencing. Kennedy’s Toyota got airborne after colliding with David Gilliland’s truck with five laps left in Thursday night’s event.

NASCAR called the race at that point, with leader Matt Crafton declared the winner.

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