NASCAR is a sport in trouble. In the last year, it has lost three major stars, the biggest one on Sunday.
With the death of Dale Earnhardt, auto racing is going to have to do some deep introspection.
Earnhardt was not wearing the Head And Neck Safety (HANS) device that some drivers are utilizing of late.
The HANS can lessen the impact on a driver's head and neck in a collision and some drivers swear by it.
Would it have saved Earnhardt? Dr. Steve Bohanan, who treated Earnhardt after the accident, was uncertain: "I don't know if the HANS device would have helped. I suspect not."
Dale Jarrett's crew chief, Todd Parrott, has a different opinion: "My driver tested the HANS device over the summer and he will not get in the car without it now. If Dale had that on, we'd probably be looking at a different situation."
Driver Brett Bodine brings up a valid point: "We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to make the car go faster. To not look at safety the same way we look at performance seems pretty stupid."
Indeed it does. NASCAR is a sport -- a dangerous sport, to be sure -- but too many people are dying, and something needs to be done.
It's unfortunate that it may take the death of NASCAR's biggest star to spur action, but if it does, then maybe the fans won't have to go through similar tragedies in the future.