43 cars were half-way through the 32nd lap of the AAA 400 at Dover. On the backstretch, a bottleneck occurred in the middle of the pack. A bright orange car with the #20 on each of the sides and roof was knocked sideways into the turn 3 grass, washed up the track in front of traffic, hit the outside barrier, and was hit broad side.
What happened next: Joey Logano’s Home Depot Toyota barrel-rolled down the embankment. 7 times.
It was the second scariest wreck of the 2009 season, only behind Carl Edwards’ catch fence adventure at Talladega in April, and one of the scariest I have ever witnessed. By the hand of the Good Lord, Logano climbed out alright.
And as usual, the credit for Logano’s well-being went to NASCAR’s pride and joy. No, not Jimmie Johnson. Their coveted Car of Tomorrow.
But as I watched replays of the accident, over and over again, I couldn’t help but wonder one thing:
Was Joey Logano’s frightening accident actually caused by the Car itself?
In all of my days watching NASCAR, I’d never seen anything like this accident. Logano hit the wall head-on, but he bled off so much speed spinning down the track, and then back up again, that he couldn’t have hit it very hard. At least, not hard enough to get him airborne. Logano also got hit in the side by Reed Sorenson, but again, it wasn’t like he was hit hard enough to get him airborne.
After watching the crash several times over, I came to one conclusion: The Car flipped because it is top-heavy.
When Sorenson hit Logano, it knocked the right-side tires off the pavement only slightly. Logano’s car also started back down the track, left-side tires first. The Car, as boxy as it is, started into a rolling motion. The more momentum the Car gathered, the faster the process became until finally, the Car traveled in an all-out barrel-roll. Something you never saw in the older car.
This isn’t the first time the Car has gotten credit for the well-being of a driver when it was, in fact, the potential cause of the accident, however.
Remember Michael McDowell’s qualifying crash at Texas? Let us remember what happened. McDowell went into the turn sideways, over-corrected to the right, and went into the wall at full speed with the left-front. The car flipped several times before finally coming to a rest at the apron. That was with the CoT platform.
A similar crash happened at a similar track, only with the old body style. In 2007, David Reutimann was turned sideways late in the race at Auto Club Speedway(California) by Greg Biffle. Reutimann also over-corrected and went into the wall in exactly the same fashion as McDowell. The difference: Reutimann did not go for the ride of a lifetime.
Carl Edwards’ wreck at Talladega was also caused by the CoT, and its ability to run very successfully in a two-car draft. Remember, the old car would not allow drivers to do what Edwards and Keselowski did on that day, as evidenced by the Nationwide race the day before. If not for the CoT’s ability to run that successfully in a two-car draft, Edwards would have likely spun back up into a pack of cars and caused a multi-car crash, instead of going on a wild flying adventure and endangering fans.
What do you think? Has the CoT kept drivers safer, or has it created more dangerous situations?