Is the testing ban worth forfeiting driver safety?

Keselowski's car after impact - Tweeted by Jimmie Johnson
Nothing helps more than a pre-test before the big exam. In NASCAR nothing helps our drivers more than testing. But sadly NASCAR doesn’t allow drivers to test at tracks that they race on, instead drivers must seek out other tracks that aren't currently sanctioned by NASCAR. Since NASCAR doesn't race at these venues, these tracks don’t have to have safety features like say at Bristol or Daytona.

One has to wonder: is it time for NASCAR to lift the testing ban?

When a road course race comes up, some drivers like to take advantage and test at a road track. It helps them to get ready for a road course race because let’s face it, road course races are tricky and a little practice never hurt anyone ... or so we think. With the second road course race of the season coming up next week at Watkins Glen, several drivers took advantage of the ability to test on a non-sanctioned track and headed to Road Atlanta on Wednesday. Drivers who participated included Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski and Max Papis.

Brad Keselowski took his Miller Lite car out on Road Atlanta for a nice simple test to get a feel of the track. Everything seemed to be going smoothly until Keselowski, who was going 155 mph in turn one, had a sudden brake failure. Fortunately for the driver of the No. 2, he was able to slow the car down to 100 mph before making head-on impact with a non-SAFER barrier wall. Brad was able to get out of the car under his power, but for precaution was airlifted to Atlanta Medical Care Center.

After the accident, Keselowski, being his normal self, tweeted:
"Looks like I'll be OK to race this weekend. Blue deuce, not so much. I'll keep u posted."
Keselowski suffered a fracture in his left ankle and has been cleared to race Sunday's event at Pocono. Keselowski was scheduled for double duty but pulled out of the Nationwide Series race. Although the pictures Keselowski tweeted of his ankle were not pretty, this goes to show you how great these cars are built and how safe they really are.

But should tracks that drivers are going be testing at be required to have SAFER barriers or not? Or should NASCAR maybe start letting drivers just test at tracks that we know are equipped with advanced safety gear? Are injuries like the ones Brad Keselowski received worth it? Is testing at these tracks really worth risking a driver’s life?

I think NASCAR needs to look into all the possibilities here and consider lifting the testing ban. Yes, one can understand their ban, but when an event like this happens, it raises concern about driver safety. Safety is all that matters when it comes to our drivers. I doubt NASCAR will suddenly lift the ban but maybe, just maybe NASCAR could start requiring test tracks to install SAFER barriers. I'll keep my fingers crossed that NASCAR will look into lifting the testing ban or urging tracks to upgrade their safety features. Will anything come of this? Probably not, but one can always hope.
Is the testing ban worth forfeiting driver safety? Is the testing ban worth forfeiting driver safety? Reviewed by Lacy Page on Friday, August 05, 2011 Rating: 5