Sunday’s T-bone impact at Talladega was so hard that it ripped a portion of the passenger door open on Larson’s car, allowing some of the padding to emerge, and it collapsed part of the driver’s roll cage.
The visor on Preece’s full-face helmet flew up when he torpedoed into Larson’s car.
Preece attributed his visor’s reaction to the fact he never fastens it.
Both drivers walked away from the accident.
When Ryan Preece’s Ford slammed into Kyle Larson’s passenger door during the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway the Stewart-Haas Racing driver thought his safety equipment performed well, but after talking with teammate Kevin Harvick he decided he needed to reassess everything.
“He (Harvick) said, ‘Man, you moved a lot,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I guess I have a lot of mass that those seatbelts have to hold in,’” Preece said. “He brought up the point that you can always make it better. You can look at it like, ‘OK, how do you feel here? What can you do differently with your belts or HANS?’
“Kevin’s really good at helping you raise questions to yourself to continue to push whether it’s safety, performance or whatever. There are a few items that I’m going to go back and look at.”
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) April 23, 2023
Sunday’s T-bone impact was so hard that it ripped a portion of the passenger door open on Larson’s car, allowing some of the padding to emerge, and it collapsed part of the driver’s roll cage. The visor on Preece’s full-face helmet flew up when he torpedoed into Larson’s car. Preece attributed his visor’s reaction to the fact he never fastens it. Both drivers walked away from the accident.
NASCAR took both cars to its R&D Center after the race so they could be studied and both drivers were invited to meet with them. Preece and Larson went to NASCAR’s Concord, N.C., facility on separate days.
“It was probably one of the toughest hits I’ve ever taken in a race car, and I’ve hit walls with hung throttles on concrete, concrete walls with dirt behind them,” said Preece, whose house was struck by lightning during a storm two weeks ago.
“Last year, they talked about drivers pushing their head back before they wreck to make sure that they didn’t slam their head and cause a concussion. Well, my body just naturally does that before impact, so I’m very lucky that my instinct is to brace. I haven’t gotten a concussion.”
Preece notes that if he feels comfortable in his race car’s cockpit, he feels safe.
“I can only protect the things that are in my little realm, and I make sure that I try to feel as comfortable and safe as I can in there,” Preece said.
Preece wasn’t the only Stewart-Haas Racing driver involved in a nasty crash at Talladega. A day earlier, Riley Herbst had Daniel Hemric’s Chevrolet flip on top of his Ford in the Xfinity Series race’s closing laps.
“The only thing I saw was, I think, he (Hemric) has fruit on the hood of his car,” Herbst said. “It was like a big strawberry in my face and the next thing I know I’m in the infield care center.”
Herbst would like for the Xfinity cars’ driver compartments to have the same high-speed cameras as the Cup cars.
“I’d be curious to compare what I looked like compared to Ryan because the incidents were actually very, very similar,” Herbst said. “What’s odd to me is how different the two race cars looked. I don’t know much about the building of the race car, but my race car is gone. It’s going to the shredder and Ryan Preece’s race car (isn’t).”
Herbst talked with Preece on their flight home, and he said they had identical complaints – “a little bit of stiffness in the neck and things like that.”
“He has a different tub than I have as well, and we, obviously, have different body styles and shapes, so that’s the only thing I could take from it,” Herbst said.
Herbst said he has already made some adjustments to his seatbelts.