DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ On the day after Dale Earnhardt's death, several NASCAR teams ordered a safety device designed to protect drivers from head and neck injuries.

The Head And Neck Safety (HANS) device was designed to lessen the pressure on the most vulnerable part of the body _ the neck and base of the skull _ in the type of crashes that killed Earnhardt and three other NASCAR drivers in the past year.

On Monday morning, several NASCAR teams contacted the Hubbard/Downing Inc. in suburban Atlanta to place orders for the brace, said Ken Adams, a plant manager. There was a call from Roger Penske's team, which has Rusty Wallace and Jeremy Mayfield as its drivers, and defending Busch series champion Jeff Green.

Adams said the plant was producing only three devices a week just a few months ago. The output has been increased to four or five a day, and the company had 35 orders just hours after Earnhardt's death.

Many drivers say the device is too bulky and uncomfortable, and only about a half-dozen competitors in Sunday's 43-car field were wearing the HANS. NASCAR has decided not to make it mandatory without additional testing.

The CART open-wheel series, which begins March 11, has already mandated the HANS system for oval-track races this year. By next year, the Formula One series is expected to follow suit.

``It's unfortunate that it takes something like this to create such an interest in a device,'' Adams said.