NASCAR official addresses safety team’s response time to recent accidents

Considering their track record over the past two decades, it isn’t often that NASCAR finds itself facing criticism from a driver safety standpoint. However, the past two weeks have seen NASCAR’s AMR safety team be criticized for its response to a pair of major accidents, an issue which NASCAR senior vice president of competition Scott Miller has had to address.

On the final lap of Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway, Carson Hocevar was injured when he spun in front of traffic and took a direct hit to the driver’s side from the oncoming truck of Tyler Hill. Although Hocevar was able to put his window net down — the universal sign to a safety team that the driver is alert — Hocevar suffered an ankle injury and spent several moments in pain on his team radio before the safety team addressed him.

Hocevar’s crash came one week after several within the industry, including driver Chris Buescherfelt that the AMR safety team did not act as fast as they could have in flipping Buescher’s upside down car back onto its wheels in the Coca-Cola 600. Speaking in Hocevar’s case in particular, Scott Miller addressed the response time of the safety team and how NASCAR addresses best practices in responding to an accident.

“One thing that everybody needs to know is the ambulance doesn’t have to be there for a doctor to be on the scene. There’s doctors in each of our chase vehicles, and we try to dispatch those as quickly as obviously as we can to the scene of the accident,” Miller said, per Zack Albert of NASCAR.com. “There is traffic out there still, and we don’t want to compound the situation by forcing one of our vehicles up into race traffic that’s slowing down. So there’s just a lot of moving parts right there, and we certainly try to respond as quickly as we can, that’s obvious.

“We look at each situation and try to improve. We always look at where our stuff, where our equipment is located, and we’ll do it again… That’s one thing we certainly do at NASCAR every time is trying to learn from every weekend, whether it’s good or something that we need to improve upon. So we always try to put our best foot forward.”

Generally, NASCAR has been able to speak of an oustanding track record on safety over the past 20 years. However, the sanctioning body only began to employ a safety traveling team at the start of 2017, well after other racing series like IndyCar and Formula 1 established their own traveling safety teams. The 2022 season has also seen lapses on NASCAR’s part in regards to accident response and driver safety.

During a Truck Series race at Las Vegas earlier this year, driver Spencer Boyd crashed with a lap and a half to go, and his truck sat disabled on the backstretch while the race continued. Boyd suffered a dislocated shoulder in the crash, and NASCAR officials admitted fault.

Hocevar was able to climb out and give a thumbs up to the crowd after his crash, but he was stretchered off and later transported to a local hospital for further evaluation of his right lower extremity. In a statement posted Sunday, Hocevar shared that he was awaiting specialist results before sharing the extent of his injuries. As of Wednesday, Niece Motorsports has yet to name a substitute driver for this weekend at Sonoma.