Joey Logano says NASCAR 'a lot safer' than NFL

USA TODAY Sports

NASCAR driver Joey Logano would rather test his luck hitting a wall at 200 mph than go head-to-head against a linebacker. NFL running back Reggie Bush sees things differently.

Would you rather race 200 mph wheel-to-wheel or get clobbered by a brutish middle linebacker who would love nothing more than to rip your head off?

For Joey Logano the answer is simple: He would prefer to take his chances racing high speeds in close quarters.

"These guys get hit a lot harder than a race car does," Logano said Tuesday while visiting the Detroit Lions practice facility. "We take some big hits in cars but the safety in our sport has improved a lot, not just with the (Car of Tomorrow), but the seats, helmets, belts, all of that stuff keeps improving.

"We take a hit maybe once every 15 races or so on average and these guys are taking hits on every play. I feel like my sport is a lot safer. We may look crazy going 200 miles per hour but I would much rather hit the wall at 200 than have a 300-pound linebacker coming at me."

NASCAR hasn't experienced a fatality in one of its three national divisions since 2001 when Dale Earnhardt Sr. lost his life in a last-lap crash in the Daytona 500.

Racing is all Logano, one of NASCAR's top stars, knows. He has been driving long before he even owned a license. Last August, the 24-year-old set the Michigan International Speedway track record by nearly eclipsing 204 mph -- the ninth-fastest qualifying time in NASCAR history.

But for someone who is not a driver, rationalizing the idea a job where your life is in danger is almost impossible. This is why Lions running back Reggie Bush has no inkling to switch professions with Logano any time soon.

"That's crazy," Bush said. "I don't know too many people who'd agree to that."

Bush isn't foreign to racing and its risks. Two weeks ago he was in Monte Carlo for the Formula One Grand Prix of Monaco.

"I respect them a lot," Bush said. "It's a completely different sport from what we do, but it's not easy by any means. They're driving 200 miles an hour plus, and that's pretty scary when you think about it. A car crash can be life threatening for those guys. The margin for error is probably very slim."

In the end, it's a matter of perspective. Being a NASCAR driver is all Logano knows, and the same principle applies to Bush, an eight-year NFL pro and Heisman Trophy winner at USC. Logano would prefer to hit a wall, while Bush prefers the sting that comes from an encounter with a behemoth of a linebacker.

"Our hits may be pretty brutal but at the same time we have done a lot to our race cars to make them safer," Logano said. "NASCAR has a constant program of always being able to test cars and crash cars and try to figure out what we can do to make them safer.

"I don't think there are as many areas in football to improve on. Obviously you have pads and helmets but you are still going to get hit every time, there are still going to be big guys hitting you and obviously when you get all the adrenaline going those hits don't become softer. Those guys are big."

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