Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove hundreds of races during his NASCAR career that spanned more than two decades on the track. It saw Earnhardt Jr. go through his fair share of scary crashes that could have changed his life for the worst. It has all guided the NASCAR Hall of Famer to reveal the genuine thoughts that go through a driver’s mind before any crash.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. experienced his fair share of frightening crashes
Dale Earnhardt Jr. strung together a highly respectable NASCAR racing career that featured many memorable moments.
Earnhardt Jr. went through the highs of winning a pair of Daytona 500s and two Xfinity Series championships. He also experienced some scary moments involving brutal car wrecks.
The 46-year-old had his share of frightening crashes, such as the one he went through at Sonoma Raceway in 2004. He still holds the belief he experienced paranormal activity after that accident. Earnhardt Jr. also had a wreck at Kansas Speedway in August 2012, where his tire exploded, leading him to barrel straight into the wall at 190 MPH.
The numerous crashes he experienced in his driving career all contributed to his concussion issues before his retirement. With all that in mind, Earnhardt Jr. laid out the genuine feeling drivers have in those instances.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. lifts the curtain behind what NASCAR drivers genuinely think moments before a crash
Dale Earnhardt Jr. spent more than two decades on a NASCAR track that saw him experience many terrifying moments.
Nothing stood out more to him than when he experienced a crash while behind the wheel. After watching Bubba Wallace’s scary wreck at Pocono Raceway in July 2018, Earnhardt Jr. voiced on The Dale Jr. Download Podcast the frightening thoughts that run across a driver’s mind in those situations.
“When you have a failure and there’s been some kind of failure on the car where you’re either out of control — you don’t have control of the steering — or you don’t have any brakes, and so you’re flying into the wall,” Earnhardt said,. “And you know you’re going to hit it, but you have enough time to think about it. Normally in wrecks, you get hit, and the hitting just starts. You don’t have time to think about, ‘Oh, I’m about to hit this, and this is going to hurt.’
“But in that rare situation that Bubba described where something breaks and you’ve got time to think, like you’re heading toward this wall at 180 miles an hour and you’re gonna hammer that damn thing, you don’t know what the result’s gonna be. And you do think about your ability to survive it.
“Are you gonna survive it? Are you gonna die? Are you going to be injured? You would be surprised what all you can cover in a mere couple seconds.”
It may be a matter of seconds, but Earnhardt Jr. describes what many believed is your life flashing in front of your eyes. It’s an utterly helpless feeling that he is conveying that anyone can relate to that sentiment.
It’s another moment that speaks to the incredible amount of danger involved for a professional race car driver. These are risks that these drivers are taking each time they take the track.
NASCAR remains focused on driver safety
Over the last two decades, NASCAR has made some significant strides toward increasing its drivers’ safety.
Following Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s tragic death, the sport has moved toward completely embracing improving safety measures. NASCAR mandated the use of HANS (Head and Neck Support restraint) devices in the cars. The HANS device have helped remove the chance of any whiplash effects from a crash to the head and neck.
NASCAR has also replaced concrete walls with energy-absorbing SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) barriers. That alone is deemed as one of the most critical changes that have been made to improve overall safety.
There are other notable changes, such as the six-point harness system, which can go up to a nine-point system. NASCAR also moved the driver’s position in the car toward the center. Meanwhile, energy-absorbing material was added to the driver’s side door panel, while a roll bar has continued to receive updates since its introduction in 2013.
NASCAR has also garnered a partnership with AMR (American Medical Response) to increase medical support during races. They have also added a physician to the chase vehicle.
It may not be a perfect system, but NASCAR has taken massive steps toward creating greater safety for their drivers to avoid life-threatening situations.