Posted: Wednesday, January 05, 2005

NASCAR outlaws Hutchens safety device

Tony Stewart reluctantly wore the Hutchens head-and-neck restraining device after NASCAR made them mandatory in 2001. He even tried to get the last laugh by wearing it under his tuxedo during the season-ending awards ceremony.

Now he has to get used to the bigger, more cumbersome HANS device.

The sanctioning body Tuesday outlawed the Hutchens device, saying it didn't meet its safety requirements. That leaves the HANS device as the only approved head-and-neck restraining system allowed in the sport.

The Hutchens device was developed by Richard Childress Racing engineer Bobby Hutchens shortly after his driver, Dale Earnhardt, was killed on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. That device uses a series of straps to divert energy from the driver's neck at impact and transfer it throughout the chest and legs.

The HANS device has a tall collar to stabilize the head at impact. It attaches to the helmet and the seat belts to prevent whiplash-like injuries during crashes.

Other drivers who'd opted for the Hutchens device include: Rusty Wallace, Jimmy Spencer and Ryan Newman.

Nextel drivers to race in 24 Hours of Daytona

Testing for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona this Friday will have a NASCAR theme.

Sports cars from the Grand American Road Racing Series will work out on the 3.54-mile road course at the Daytona International Speedway, and many of them will have drivers more familiar with the Daytona 500 behind the wheel.

Not only are former Nextel Cup Series champions Bobby Labonte, Terry Labonte, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart scheduled to compete in the twice-around-the-clock race, but so are former Busch Series champions Randy LaJoie and Greg Biffle.

Justin Labonte, Jamie McMurray, Jimmie Johnson and Casey Mears also are scheduled to drive in the race.

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