We see it every week, a race car going over 180 mph hits the wall or another car, bringing out the caution and ending the driver’s day. But how many of these crashes result in career long shaken confidences?
We have seen some crazy wrecks on the track and some have even shaken up fans to the point that they can no longer watch NASCAR races. Some believe that if a driver is in a serious wreck (something other than just bumping the wall), even if it doesn’t result in injury, they will never be the same driver they once were.
When we watched Joey Logano flip over at Dover last September, my step-dad immediately declared he would never become a top driver in the future.
“That’s it. We won’t see the kid’s true talent now. He’s had the crash that ruins drivers.”
Joey walked from his car seemingly unhurt (if not a little sore) and I doubted my step-dad's quick judgment.
My mind flipped back to when Ryan Newman took a tumble in the grass at Daytona during the 500 in 2003. If you don’t remember the wreck, Newman’s car went airborne before rolling in the grass and the whole back end pretty much fell apart.
He walked away from the wreck under his own power. Newman didn’t seem any worse for wear when he jumped back in the car the next week and has had many successful seasons since then.
Looking back to Newman at Talladega last year (Newman has horrible luck with wrecks at restrictor plate tracks), if any wreck would shake up a driver without actually hurting them, this would be it.
Newman once again flipped, went across the track on his hood, and then flipped again before coming to a stop upside down. It took crews over 15 minutes to extract him from the car.
Newman was fine after the much criticized accident and any normal man probably would have been shaken up beyond repair. But Newman has been performing up to his regular standards with no real eye-catching aftershocks to his driving from the accident.
However, there are indeed some drivers out there that have seemed to be affected by their accidents. Steve Parks is one of those that never really came back the same but he also had life threatening injuries.
While the confidence theory may hold water when the driver is seriously injured, I do not believe that the majority of drivers have any real after effects from wrecks.
Some of the best drivers in the industry have had serious wrecks that I have no doubt left a serious impression on them. But the top athletes in any sport know the dangers to what they are doing and how to block out all bad thoughts when they step into their car.
So what is your opinion? Do big wrecks shake up a driver enough to make him less confident even if he only suffered minor injuries and soreness?