MOORESVILLE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — NASCAR Cup Series driver Cody Ware is back home in Mooresville following a hard crash at Texas Motor Speedway. Paramedics took Ware to the infield care center where he was treated and released.
Team leaders say Ware was tested to see if he had a concussion, but those tests came back negative. Ware was complaining of ankle pain and is expected to get reevaluated by doctors this week before he competes next weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.
NASCAR Cup Series champion Kurt Busch is continuing his recovery following a qualifying crash in late July. He was diagnosed with a concussion. His injury, along with others, is putting a renewed spotlight on racing and head injuries.
The latest concussion in NASCAR happened to truck series driver Josh Reaume following a crash at Bristol Motor Speedway. NASCAR has strict measures in place to ensure a driver doesn’t return to racing before they recover, but things weren’t always that way.
NASCAR has a history of spectacular crashes, where drivers walk away without injury. In May Chris Buescher flipped multiple times at the Coca-Cola 600, but he got out of his car uninjured and even spoke with reporters soon after.
Kurt Busch was making a qualifying lap and backed into the wall at Pocono Raceway in July. When compared to other crashes this season it didn’t look serious, but it has sidelined Busch as he continues to recover from his concussion.
“I think the similarities between my situation in 2016 and his are very similar. There is just no known time when this thing is going to come together for him,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. missed a majority of the second half of the 2016 season from a concussion. He estimates throughout his career he’s had at least 20 of them. Now Earnhardt Jr. is an advocate for concussion health awareness, vowing to donate his brain to science.
But what is making a crash like what Busch had, so serious? Doctors say it could be the sudden, violent movement of the car. After all, violent movements cause a concussion.
“There is a jolt that happens that causes essentially a surge of some of the chemical things that happen inside the brain,” said Dr. Kevin Burroughs.
Dr. Burroughs is a sports medicine physician with Atrium Health. He says a concussion is like a power surge to the brain. Doctors try to modify stress and activity in the brain, in order for it to recover. Recovery periods vary between patients.
In NASCAR, every driver is required to visit an infield care center following a crash. Doctors administer what is called a SCAT-3 diagnostic tool, which is a questionnaire asking about symptoms. The patient is asked to rank the symptoms using a set of numbers, and the numbers are added up to determine the severity of the head injury.
The questionnaire helps determine if a driver has a concussion and when they are safe to return.
“Kurt is not the one sitting there going, I think I am ok. It’s really going to be someone else’s choice,” said Earnhardt Jr.
It is the doctor’s choice of when a driver can return to the track. NASCAR implemented new concussion protocols back in 2017. Before that time, drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr., admit they would race without being fully recovered or even lie to doctors about symptoms.
This season the NASCAR Cup Series is racing in a new car, that was designed to be safer. NASCAR drivers have expressed concern over the safety of the car, saying the crashes this season seem harder and more violent inside the cockpit.