Saturday, May 7, 2011

Jeff Gordon’s Richmond crash registered 40 Gs

I�wrote earlier in the week about Jeff Gordon's strange magnetism to hard crashes after he endured another one last Saturday at Richmond International Raceway. The four-time champion — at least in recent years — has done a bang-up job of finding tough walls to hit.

Almost a week after Gordon's latest incident, a new tidbit came out about the severity of the crash. According to Dustin Long,�the crash registered some 40 g on the race car's data recorder. In context, Long writes after an interview with SAFER barrier designer Dean Sicking, Gordon's hit was more than enough to inspire change in the specific wall Gordon hit.

"If during the impact, you're 25 to 30 Gs or under, we consider that to be a moderately low impact,'' said Sicking, who had not yet received any information on Gordon's hit from NASCAR when we talked earlier this week. "If you're anywhere above 30, that's a hard hit.''

That would put Gordon's hit above the threshold.

NASCAR typically doesn't release the hit severity numbers publicly, and they declined to tell Long anything more than Gordon's wall banger was one of the highest of the season.

Not surprisingly, Gordon also addressed the hit again Friday morning at Darlington Raceway.

"I knew it was a hard hit. I got out, got in the medical center, you know, my head hurt a little bit. Other than that, I was feeling pretty good," Gordon said. "I was walking out of the medical center and I happened to see a TV and caught a glance at what happened and I was shocked. I couldn't believe there wasn't a SAFER barrier there. Then I realized why it hurt so much."

The hit — a driver's side impact after Gordon spun around once fully after contact — took Gordon from contention in Saturday night's 400 lapper and settled him into a 39th-place finish. Gordon called for Richmond to improve the safety of the backstretch wall, and Friday said he felt confident that RIR will make appropriate changes.

"Hopefully through this incident, which, I walked away from unscathed, we'll be able to make improvements there at Richmond," Gordon said. "Richmond was one of the first tracks that had SAFER Barriers, so their efforts have always been there to protect and keep the tracks safe as possible. So, it is just an area that needs to be re-looked at and from what I understand, they will definitely be doing that."

It's an area that Four-Time has experience over the past few seasons. Two years ago, Gordon took in a vicious hit at Watkins Glen courtesy of an ill-designed wall that was quickly mended by track officials. The same was done when Gordon hit hard enough at Las Vegas in 2008 that his radiator ended up catapulted across the track.

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