NHRA officials say vibration led to Medlen's death

BAYTOWN, Texas -- NHRA officials said Friday that a severe vibration in the car caused the head injuries that led to the death of Funny Car driver Eric Medlen.

The explanation was given during a pre-event drivers' meeting at Houston Raceway Park prior to first-day qualifying for the O'Reilly Spring Nationals.

Medlen died March 23, four days after a test session crash at Gainesville, Fla.

"We were told the extreme vibration shook Eric's head violently from side to side," Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher said. "His head was hitting the sides of the roll cage. We talked today about making the cages bigger to eliminate that situation in the future."

Schumacher said the drivers were told Medlen's car went into a violent tire shake moments before the tire blew, which caused Medlen's Funny Car to slam into the concrete retaining wall.

"Every crash is different," Schumacher said. "So you learn something new every time that you can apply in the future to make things safer."

Some drivers also expressed their concerns about track preparation on test sessions days, usually a Monday after an NHRA event. The drivers want more safety personnel at each track during a test session.

Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at terry@blountspeak.com.