Look both ways at NASCAR races: Woman struck by Kyle Busch’s car in Tennessee

Remember when we were young, and grown-ups told us to look both ways before we crossed the street?

This is especially true at a NASCAR race.

A woman was struck by Kyle Busch’s car after the reigning Sprint Cup champion from Las Vegas crashed out of Sunday’s race at Bristol, Tennessee. She didn’t appear to be injured, at least at first. Later, she went to the infield care center to be checked out.

The woman had ducked inside a roped-off area behind the pit wall to take a picture with her cellphone when she was struck by Busch’s slowly moving car as it was exiting the track after Busch had brushed the wall a second time. The woman, Erin Vandyke, posted a photo of the incident on her Facebook page.

“And to top it all off, Kyle Busch didn’t even check to make sure I was okay,” she wrote. “Just makes me dislike him even more!!”

I have several takes on this:

• There are no garages at Bristol, and it’s a small track. So it’s harder for people milling around a congested area to get away from racecars that go behind the wall for service, especially when these people are not paying attention and looking both ways for racecars.

• People in the stands at baseball games who get struck by a batted ball know that is part of the risk. It even says so on the ticket stub in real small print. Rarely do they blame the batter. (But because people are always doing stuff on their cellphones and not paying attention, there should be nets at ballgames protecting spectators, like at hockey games, or baseball games in Japan.)

• Had it been Dale Earnhardt Jr. who struck the woman, NASCAR fans would have been blaming the woman for getting in Junior’s way.

• This woman had a completely different Kyle Busch experience than the one who rolled up to him in traffic after the race the week before at Martinsville, Virginia, when Busch rolled down his window, asked “Wassup?” and autographed her Kyle Busch cap amid much joyful shrieking.

Turning up heat(s)

NASCAR heat races made their debut during the Xfinity Series event at Bristol and will be used again Saturday at Richmond (and at a couple of other races this season) to determine starting positions. NASCAR said it will talk to track promoters about adding heat races for Sprint Cup series events.

One reason to have them, perhaps in lieu of Friday qualifying, was this from the Johnson City (Tennessee) Press: “The Friday qualifying crowd was virtually nonexistent.”

One reason not to have them was this from Autoweek magazine: “The (heat) races were boring, and there was no passing.”

My take: Heat races would be more compelling if drivers were eliminated from the main event based on where they finished, like at the World of Outlaws or at the local bullring on Saturday night. Then they would have to drive harder in the heat races and there might be passing.

Green-white-checkered

• Las Vegas-area police, firefighters, EMTs and other first responders will be honored at Hometown Heroes Night Presented by K&N Filters at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Bullring on Saturday. All area police, fire and first responder personnel with valid ID, along with up to four members of their families, will receive free admission. Gates open at 5 p.m. with opening ceremonies at about 6:50, followed by racing in a bunch of divisions, including Super Late Models, at 7.

• Remember Leah Pritchett, the popular NHRA Top Fuel driver who earned her first victory in February before losing her ride when her team (Bob Vandergriff Jr. Racing) stunningly closed shop doors after the recent race in Las Vegas? She will drive the Nitro Ninja dragster for the Lagana family at this weekend’s NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at Bruton Smith’s zMax Dragway at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It’s just a one-off deal for now, but as Pritchett said, it will keep her “relevant” in the point standings.

• This was part of a conversation between NHRA Funny Car legend John Force and IndyCar standout Graham Rahal, who married Force’s Funny Car-driving daughter Courtney, as reported by USA Today: Force: “If you ever split up with my daughter, there will be a hundred men lined up to marry her.” Rahal: “Not after they meet you.”

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. His motor sports notebook runs on Friday. Follow on Twitter: @ronkantowski

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