Typically, Sprint Cup drivers talk about the great danger in the "Big One," a multi-car wreck during restrictor-plate races at Daytona and Talladega super speedways.
But Brad Keselowski got an ugly reminder recently that the other extreme of the NASCAR schedule — road courses — can be just as perilous.
Keselowski was testing last week at Watkins Glen, where the Sprint Cup series goes next after today's Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway, where rain washed out Sunday's race. Keselowski's rear brakes failed, causing his front brakes to lock up, and he ended up in a terrifying crash through a tire barrier.
Keselowski says the angles of crashes at road courses — Sonoma being the other one on the Sprint Cup schedul — combined with the lack of containment at these layouts, create a unique risk.
"In general, I'm not comfortable with tracks that have run-offs that lead to very harsh angles," Keselowski said this weekend at Pocono. "That's certainly a situation that that track has and always had it.
"Road courses remain the most dangerous tracks in motorsports for a good reason — because of that. But we know that going in. Someplace has to be the safest and someplace has to be the most dangerous. It's funny; we talk about (the risks at) Daytona and Talladega. They don't ever worry me as much as these road courses do."
Keselowski says he appreciates that road courses tend to run numerous racing series and so how the courses are set up is a function of compromise.
Keselowski tweeted video of the crash and a photo of the misshapen steering wheel that collided into his chest. He walked away shaken up, but not seriously hurt.
"The steering column is probably the weakest link," among parts that have to absorb energy in a crash, Keselowski said. "That continues to be a pretty big issue when the steering wheel comes up in your face and can do a lot of damage to your helmet and your head. I got lucky that I didn't get too much of it."
Keselowski said his rear brake line wasn't installed properly and broke.
"There are only so many of those hits that are going to happen before somebody gets killed. I know that," he said. "It's not something I'm comfortable with. Odds are if 100 people take that hit, a couple of them aren't going to be standing here. That's pretty safe to say."