Denny Hamlin accident sparks track safety dialog

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) — NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin is heading back home after an accident during a race in California last weekend.

The Chesterfield native suffered a compression fracture in his back.

The accident has sparked a conversation about safety at racetracks across the country, including here in Richmond.

Richmond International Raceways’ Dennis Bickmeier stopped by the CBS 6 studios Tuesday to talk about track safety and the crash.

Bickmeier said each time a crash or accident happens, track officials have an opportunity to improve safety. In fact, he said something can be garnered from each accident, including the jaw-dropping crash that injured 28 fans at the Daytona International Speedway last month.

“The first thing that runs through your mind is, if that were to happen at Richmond, how would we handle that situation,” Bickmeier said.

Regarding Hamlin’s crash, Bickmeier said he previously worked at the California track where it happened and was familiar with the area Hamlin hit. He said that since that track is two miles long, drivers are often running at speeds topping 200 mph.

As  a result, he said Hamlin did not have a chance to “scrub off” a lot of speed or slow down before impact.

“There wasn’t anything he could do with the car to get it turned and away from the wall,” Bickmeier said.

Bickmeier also stressed the safety of drivers and fans are a top priority for the sport.

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