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Ryan Blaney: Next Gen Safety Updates Helped in Hard Daytona Crash

Ryan Blaney discussed his massive head-on crash from last weekend's NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona Thursday during NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Media Day.


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Five days removed from a terrifying head-on collision in Turn 4 on Lap 95 of Saturday's Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway, Ryan Blaney is not only alive to talk about it, but thanks to constantly evolving safety in NASCAR, he's in good enough shape to continue chasing a NASCAR Cup Series championship.

The driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Ford Mustang was among the 16 drivers that took part in NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Media Day in Charlotte, North Carolina on Thursday, and he says that recent changes to soften the front clips of the NASCAR Cup Series cars definitely helped him in the crash.

"After this one, I think some of the circumstances involved in it helped. My body felt more sore after this one than my head. That was good. I think the front clip updates were definitely [what] helped me," Blaney explained. "Obviously, hitting a SAFER barrier wall was positive, but I think the front clip updates were huge. I think if those weren't in, and we wrecked at Daytona, I feel like it would have been a lot worse. For sure."

Blaney, who admitted earlier in the season that he had experienced concussion-like symptoms after a crash into a concrete barrier at Nashville Superspeedway, states that the g-forces that he pulled in the Daytona crash surpassed what he pulled in the Nashville accident.

"Yeah, they were way more," Blaney stated.

When pressed on how many g's he registered in the crash on Saturday night, Blaney stopped short of giving an official answer other than they were much higher.

"I don't know if I can tell. I don't know if I'm allowed to tell, but they were way higher," Blaney said.

Additionally, Blaney said the massive impact recorded more g-forces than any crash of his racing career, "by far."

It's sobering to think how last Saturday could have turned out had NASCAR not taken the safety of the Next Gen car seriously after a horrendous crash involving Kyle Larson and Ryan Preece earlier this season at Talladega Superspeedway. But, thankfully, we'll never have to find out.

However, just because Saturday's crash ended with a favorable result, doesn't ensure that the next one will. Safety is a moving target, and NASCAR will continue to look at the wreckage and data from Blaney's car as well as Ryan Preece's car, which flipped violently on Lap 156 at Daytona, in an effort to come up with advances to make the Next Gen car even safer for competitors.

Blaney, likewise, will be doing his part in the aftermath of his hit at Daytona, and any crash he has in the future to help steer NASCAR in the proper direction for driver safety.

"Yeah, I actually talked to [NASCAR] yesterday," Blaney said. "I had a call with John Patalak, and some folks from Wake Forest with the mouthpiece data. There was another guy, but I can't remember [his name], but we went over a lot of that stuff. Kind of a lot of data. The car data, what they were happy with, and what they would like to still see worked on."

Blaney says that while he was pleasantly surprised with how things held up inside the car on his end, NASCAR gave some ideas of how to improve the inside of his race car in the future to make those sorts of crashes even less intense from inside the car.

Following a massive crash, like the one he took on Saturday night, Blaney says NASCAR is very open to feedback from the drivers.

"They are always open [to] that, and they want to hear our feedback. And I want to hear what they think," Blaney said. "You know, okay, are you guys happy with this? What did you like when you saw this? What did you not like when you saw all of this stuff? And when you get the car back? And what do you think about the future?

"I'm always curious about that stuff. I'm always very open to giving my feedback, right? Our feedback to NASCAR -- what it feels like, and what we feel like they can improve -- it's important for them to try to go forward to the future. When you have something like that, it's kind of part of your job to be as helpful as you can talking to NASCAR about where to go."

With the massive crash at Daytona behind him, Blaney will look to focus on the task at hand -- chasing his first-ever NASCAR Cup Series title. The Team Penske racer enters Sunday's Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway as the 12th seed in the Playoffs, and he won a crown jewel event earlier this season, the Coca-Cola 600.

Photo Credit: John K Harrelson, NKP, Courtesy of Ford Performance

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