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Coke Zero 400 Shows The Evolution of NASCAR Safety

It certainly was a crazy weekend at Daytona Beach for the Coke Zero 400. It rained most of the weekend leaving the 43 car field to line up based on practice time giving Dale Earnhardt Jr. the pole and he never looked back, as he dominated the race and went on to win his second race of the season.

There are not many times where Earnhardt Jr. wins a race and that is not the main headline the following day, which was the case this weekend. Austin Dillon had the sports world buzzing today following his horrific crash at the finish line on the final lap of the race.

Dillon’s car was torn to pieces in a matter of seconds. His car was flipped over and sent into the fence which also injured five fans. Dillon’s motor was thrown from his car and the only remaining part of his car was the roll cage.

Photo: Chris Graythen, Getty Images

Photo: Chris Graythen, Getty Images

Dillon told reporters from U.S.A. Today “”We’ve got to figure out something. Our speeds are too high, I think. I think everybody could get good racing with slower speeds. We can work at that, and then figure out a way to keep the cars on the ground. That’s the next thing. We’re fighting hard to make the racing good. I hope the fans appreciate that. We don’t, but it’s our job. You go out there and hold it wide open to the end and hope you make it through”.

Miraculously Dillon walked away from a wreck like this and waved to the crowd showing he was okay. It was also at this track where Kyle Busch injured his foot back in February and as everyone knows where NASCAR lost Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500.

Safety has come such a long way in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, as a wreck like this could easily have killed anyone from Austin Dillon, to a fan as well.

When Dale Earnhardt passed away from his fatal accident in the 2001 Daytona 500, he did not even wear a full cage helmet as he was notorious for his open faced helmet. It wasn’t until after Earnhardt’s wreck where NASCAR made some major changes such as implementing closed helmets and adding in new safety standards such as the HANS device.

A Hans device is a restraint system that keeps drivers’ heads stable during a collision. NASCAR has many great examples of how the Hans device has helped saved many lives since the passing of Dale Earnhardt, and last night was definite proof of that.

It was so good to see Dillon walk away from a wreck like that and see Earnhardt Jr. score another big win. With that win, Earnhardt Jr. now has ten career restrictor plate wins which is third all time only behind his father and Jeff Gordon.

It was also Jeff Gordon’s final race at Daytona and the race did not even start until after 11:00pm EST due to rain. NASCAR got the race in and for those who stayed up to watch the whole race, definitely got to see a very entertaining race and were most definitely not disappointed.

Watch: Austin Dillon Crash as Earnhardt Jr. Gets the Win. 

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