WEST ALLIS, Wis. — The collision involving NASCAR star Tony Stewart that killed a driver during a sprint car race in New York prompted a review of safety protocols by the IndyCar racing series.
The guidelines instruct IndyCar drivers to stay in their vehicles after a track incident and follow safety guidelines until a safety team arrives, so long as there is no fire or other extenuating circumstance, an IndyCar spokesman said.
NASCAR on Friday added a rule barring its drivers from approaching the track or moving cars after accidents, less than a week after the driver Kevin Ward Jr. was killed after getting hit by Stewart’s car.
“IndyCar’s safety guidelines and post-incident protocol are very reflective of what NASCAR put out today,” IndyCar spokesman Mike Kitchel said Friday.
Car owner Michael Andretti called what happened in New York a “very, very disappointing accident.” Andretti Autosport operates the Milwaukee race.
“Our sport is dangerous, but when a stupid accident like that happens, it’s unfortunate because I think you can accept the danger of driving fast and something happening, and you crash and something happens,” said Andretti, who wasn’t aware of NASCAR’s new rule.
“It is probably very positive that they are doing some things like that. I think, when you get out of the car, your emotions, your adrenaline (are) going a million miles per hour,” he added. “Sometimes you do things without even realizing what you’re doing. It might not be a bad idea.”
The impact of what happened on the dirt track affects all motorsports, said driver Charlie Kimball. He expressed sympathy for the Ward family.
“I think there’s the opportunity to learn from it,” Kimball said this week. “Racing is just a close-knit family. It hurts everybody.”
After a week off, the IndyCar series resumes its schedule Sunday at the Milwaukee Mile. Qualifying is scheduled for Saturday evening. Will Power holds a four-point edge over teammate Helio Castroneves on the driver leaderboard.
It is the first of the three final races of the season, and the first IndyCar race since Ward was killed. Kitchel said IndyCar extended its deepest sympathies to the family of Ward, whose funeral was Thursday.
“If you’re in motorsports, we’ve been all been through this and unfortunately we’ve all been through it multiple times,” he said.
He called safety an evolutionary process in racing, whether it affects fans, drivers, crews or spectators. “It doesn’t matter the series,” Kitchel said. “We’re always looking to ensure safety of drivers, teams and spectators.”