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Ryan Blaney Says Lack of Safety Barriers Was "Pretty Ridiculous" After “Hardest Hit” in His Career

Blaney criticized NASCAR for not having SAFER barriers where his Nashville crash occurred.

By Andrew Woodin
Ryan Blaney adjusts his ear piece during NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying for the Ambetter Health 400

After snapping his 59-race winless streak with a triumphant victory during the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May, Ryan Blaney had much worse luck at Sunday's Ally 400 in Nashville.

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A catastrophic crash during the race prematurely ended his chance to pull off another win.

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What happened to Ryan Blaney in Nashville during the Ally 400?

After a problematic restart on Lap 147 out of the 300-lap race, Brad Keselowski got loose after he was pushed from behind by William Byron near the front of the pack. The cascade of braking cars triggered Kyle Busch to hit Blaney, who had restarted deep in the field. The subsequent impact jettisoned Blaney and Rowdy down across the grass, but Blaney was unable to regain control of his No. 12 Ford Mustang, resulting in him slamming into a concrete wall at nearly a head-on angle.

Ryan Blaney putting on his helmet

Following his disastrous wreck — one that demolished his Ford Mustang, crumpling the hood up like tin foil — Blaney immediately received attention from medical experts in the infield care center. Miraculously, the 29-year-old Ohio native suffered no injuries and was released. Despite coming out unscathed from the harrowing ordeal, Blaney had some strong words for the league.

What did Ryan Blaney say about his crash at Nashville Superspeedway?

Clearly frustrated, Blaney questioned why NASCAR had not erected a SAFER barrier in the area where he crashed. “I don’t know why there’s no SAFER barrier there,” he told NBC Sports. “That’s pretty ridiculous, honestly. Hardest hit I’ve ever had in my life. Happy to be all right, but it sucks for the Pennzoil Ford Mustang. Stinks to go home early.”

“I don’t really know what happened,” Blaney told NBC Sports of the cause of the crash. “Someone checked up on the restart, I guess. I kind of checked up, got hit from behind. I didn’t know if they were wrecking, and I just couldn’t get it straightened out. When I got out of the grass, I thought I was going to come back around, and that I’d be okay. Just never got back right.”

What are the SAFER barriers Blaney spoke about?

Standing for “Steal And Foam Energy Reduction,” SAFER barriers are engineered with the primary purpose of absorbing the energy of an impact, decreasing the dangerous forces that a driver feels during a wreck like Blaney’s. NASCAR routinely installs SAFER barriers on concrete walls like the one Blaney hit during the Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway but, according to The Sports Rush, they were not featured on the walls where Blaney’s wreck occurred.

Ryan Blaney looks on during qualifying for the running of the NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear 400

Pressed about whether he would engage with league officials on the need for SAFER barriers to be constructed on the inside wall beyond pit road, Blaney, who entered Sunday’s race in Music City as one of only two drivers (alongside Corey LaJoie) to finish out every Cup Series race this season, according to NASCAR, questioned why the standardized safety measures weren’t integrated around the entire track.

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“I’m sure they’ll [NASCAR] put one on it after this,” Blaney said, according to NBC Sports. “It sucks that things like that have to happen, someone hit a wall head-on like that, and then you’re like, ‘Oh, we’ll put a SAFER barrier on it now.’”

“It’s like why are you not doing the whole track?” he continued. “I’ll pay for the [expletive] thing to put it on there.”

What did NASCAR say in response to Ryan Blaney’s safety criticism?

In the wake of Blaney’s scary wreck at the Ally 400, NASCAR issued a statement, but the league did not expand on why there were no SAFER barriers on the portion of concrete walls that Blaney collided with. NASCAR did say that the organization will examine the crash details and see if changes are necessary.

“NASCAR safety engineers work closely with safety experts on the implementation of barriers around the track,” read NASCAR’s statement, posted by FOX Sports NASCAR reporter Bob Pockrass. “As we do following every race weekend, we will evaluate all available data and make any necessary improvements.”

Though Busch was able to salvage his day for a ninth-place finish, while Ross Chastain cruised to his first win of the season, Blaney sang a different tune. Team Penske’s driver of the No. 12 Ford Mustang was ultimately credited with the 36th-place finish — dead last among the field.

Despite being shaken up from the collision in Nashville, Blaney can redeem himself this coming weekend with a win in Chicago at the Grant Park 220 — the first ever street race in the NASCAR Cup Series.