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Today's Question: Is NASCAR doing enough to keep its drivers safe?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009 | 2:36 p.m. CDT

When Columbia-native Carl Edwards' car crashed on the final lap of Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, it reinvigorated discussions about safety in NASCAR.

Edwards was trying to prevent eventual winner Brad Keselowki from making a pass when Keselowski bumped into the rear of Edwards' car. The contact between the cars sent Edwards spinning down the track.

Edwards' No. 99 car then flipped over Ryan Newman's front hood, sending Edwards airborne. Edwards' car flew through the air, flipping upside down and smashing into the fence.

The car then returned to the track in flames. Debris from Edwards' collision with the fence injured seven fans.

Talladega is one of two tracks, along with Daytona, where NASCAR uses restrictor plates, which are devices that slow a car's acceleration and limit its top speed by reducing the power of the engine.

NASCAR uses restrictor plates to prevent cars from traveling at unsafe speeds. But an unintended consequence is that cars bunch up in large packs, creating more opportunities for collisions.

In tight packs, one mistake could lead to a giant accident. Many drivers complained about the restrictor plates after Sunday's race.

"We'll race like this until we kill somebody," Edwards told the Associated Press, "then (NASCAR) will change it."

Newman finished third, but he wasn't happy with the safety at Talladega either.

"Talladega is short for 'We're going to crash, we just don't know when,'" Newman said. "We saw (an airborne car) two times this weekend, so maybe we need to look at things that keep the car down on the ground."

NASCAR officials claim they are doing everything they can to keep drivers and spectators safe.

Do you think NASCAR needs to do more to ensure the safety of its drivers?


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