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NASCAR WCUP: CAT Team remembers Earnhardt and addresses safety

Posted By Terry Callahan
Motorsports Editor, The Auto Channel
“As a competitor and as a fan, we all lookedup to Dale Earnhardt. He paved the wayin not only how we should conduct ourselves, but also how we should protect thesport. He was truly a mentor to all ofus as competitors. I don’t see any bodyin the near or far future that can replace him. Somebody will eventually rise to the role, but it will be for thenext generation of drivers. He wastruly the guy that we aspired to be, on and off the track.” -Ward Burton, No. 22


“Dale was the leader of our sport and has been for quitesometime. So not only have we lost abig part of what NASCAR is about, but we’ve also lost our fiercest competitorand our biggest advocate of NASCAR. Ithink aside from all of that, he was very loyal to his family and his closestfriends, like Richard Childress. He wasobviously a great driver and he could have been easily lured away by more moneyfrom another team, but because of his friendship and loyalty to RichardChildress he never did that. I thinkthat speaks volumes about what type of person he really was.”


I have HAD conversations with Simpson and I am continuing totalk to them about things we want to try. I have a helmet going to the HANS folks and they are planning on comingto Atlanta next week when we’re there testing. But, everything will be the same this weekend.


“I’m sure that there are several people that have there ownideas about how to honor dale. Onesuggestion might be to paint up a car like Dale’s No. 3 and pace off the fieldfor us this weekend. There are so manythings they can do, but one thing that has to happen is to console everyone forDale and people that were close to them.


“Dale Earnhardt was NASCAR. I don’t think Richard Childress or NASCAR would be where they are nowwithout Dale Earnhardt. It is a hugevoid to fill. Nobody in the history ofNASCAR has had the presence that Dale Earnhardt had. Nobody would have been able to get away with the things he gotaway with. I think that DaleEarnhardt’s presence will be felt for a long time to come.

“I believe it is up to us to honor Dale in some way this weekend. I think they should leave the first garagestall reserved for the champion open all year long in remembrance of Dale. I also believe that NASCAR should retire theNo. 3. I know it is not something thatNASCAR typically does, but nobody will ever be able to fill the shoes thatdrove that car.


“The reality is that is up to us and the driver for makingthe safety better. We will not havetime to make changes to the cars prior to this race, but we will be working atgetting a six-point harness installed and looking at the HANS device. I am not sure if the HANS device is thecomplete answer. You can’t control theforce of the impact, you can only try to slow it down. When you hit the wall that hard, I don’tthink the HANS device could save anybody. The drivers and the crew know each week what dangers we are facedwith. We need to do the best we can toavoid those situations and make the cars as safe as we can.”

Text Provided By Heidi Stoddard

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