Sports

Despite NASCAR regulations and safety devices, life-threatening crashes are always a possibility.

A Saturday night crash at Kansas speedway serves as a reminder that auto racing is inherently dangerous. Massive cars drive very fast in close proximity, and despite the most skilled drivers and the most advanced safety measures, people are going to get hurt.

Aric Almirola found that out the hard way Saturday when his car crashed into cars driven by Danica Patrick and Joey Logano at 200 miles per hour.

Logano and Patrick walked away from the crash. Almirola was not so lucky. Airlifted from the speedway to a local hospital, the driver was pronounced in stable condition.

NASCAR has mandated safety upgrades in recent years, including SAFER barriers, HANS devices, and improvements in auto design. But none of these measures can eliminate danger from auto racing.

“Well, I mean, it’s a dangerous sport,” said Brad Keselowski, who finished second in Saturday night’s race. “Always has been, always will be.”

Drivers say it can be hard to maintain focus after an accident. Driver Martin Truex Jr. said he watched a big screen at the track as emergency staff removed Almirola from his wrecked car. “When I saw him they were getting him out and he was on a stretcher. I just kind of put my head down and closed my eyes and gave him a few prayers to hope that he was doing good.”

Drivers seemed to pilot their cars with a bit more care and prudence as Truex went on to win the race.