Juan Pablo Montoya Crash: Scary Incident Must Force NASCAR to Change Policies

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistFebruary 28, 2012

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 27:  A jet dryer bursts into flames after being hit by Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, under caution during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 27, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
John Harrelson/Getty Images

In one of the wildest wrecks in recent NASCAR history, veteran road racer Juan Pablo Montoya caused a fireball that had the already delayed race on hold for even longer.

It was during a caution lap that NASCAR ordered the jet dryers onto the speedway to ensure that the track remained rain-free and safe for the competitors.

With the green flag coming out sooner rather than later, Montoya was driving far too fast during a caution in order to catch up to the pack. When something went wrong and caused him to lose control of his car, he was going too fast to control it and smashed into the jet dryer and the truck pulling it.

The subsequent destruction and huge fire halted the flag for a long time while the cleanup and repair process did what had to be done. With the race being delayed twice already before this incident, many fans couldn’t hang any longer and were forced to miss the end of the Great American Race.

That’s where NASCAR needs to address the issue. I understand that something went wrong with Montoya’s car when he hit the turn, but the fact that a majority of NASCAR-loving Americans missed the greatest show in the sport means something is wrong.

With great success comes great failure and this year’s Daytona 500 was the definition of a failure.

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 27:  Safety workers clean up the track after a jet dryer burst into flames after being hit under caution by Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona Int
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Starting with the rain that forced the race into Monday for the first time in the over 50 years they have run this race, it seemed like Mother Nature didn’t want this race to happen. After being moved to noon Monday, NASCAR was forced again to push the race back to 7 p.m. ET because of more rain.

After finally getting started, the Montoya incident made fans wonder if they were ever supposed to finish this race. NASCAR can learn so much from this incident.

As far as the weather goes, they showed they are already learning by the way they handled Monday’s situation. By cutting the crap and rescheduling for later, they avoided one more mess, but they couldn’t have foreseen the Montoya wreck.

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 27:  The wrecked #42 Target Chevrolet driven by Juan Pablo Montoya is towed back to the garage after crashing into a jet dryer under caution during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on
John Harrelson/Getty Images

NASCAR needs to immediately implement a speed limit for cars coming around to catch the pack or at least a speed limit around other vehicles on the track. The part of this that is being forgotten is that the driver of the vehicle that was hit and caught fire could have been killed.

While Montoya has all the safety equipment a driver could ever need, that air-dryer driver could easily have died if it wasn’t for the quick actions of the safety crew. NASCAR needs to do everything in their power to make sure ALL members of their brand are safe.

This was just an accident, but one that doesn’t have to happen again.


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