LAS VEGAS – The first details surrounding Ryan Newman’s vicious Daytona 500 accident and the safety response that followed came to light Saturday thanks to a NASCAR panel.
So, in reality, what seemed like an eternity was actually much less than that.
After Ryan Newman’s battered race car came to rest last Monday at the exit of the tri-oval following the finish of the Daytona 500, it took only 19 seconds for the first emergency vehicle to arrive, according to the chronology provided by a trio of NASCAR officials in a question-and-answer session with reporters on Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“The tool truck arrived at the vehicle 19 seconds after it came to rest,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “The fireman that you saw with the extinguisher was in that vehicle. One of the three trauma doctors assigned to the safety team for the race arrived at the car at the 33‑second mark, and a paramedic entered the vehicle at the 35‑second mark.
“For the next three and a half minutes, two doctors and paramedics attended to Ryan. At the 4:05 mark, the decision was then made to roll the car over while continuing to help aid the driver,” O’Donnell continued. “At the 6:56 mark, the car was upright. The extrication team then began cutting the car, and a doctor continued to provide treatment.
“The roof was removed at the 11:10 mark, and the extrication was completed at 15:40, and the driver was then moved to the ambulance for transport. During this entire time, doctors and paramedics were attending to Ryan, except at the moment of the car rollover.”
Newman, who was taken directly to Halifax Medical Center and released from the hospital on Wednesday, may well have benefitted from the so-called “Newman bar,” a reinforcement for the roll cage that strengthened the roof and the windshield that was implemented after a wreck involving Newman in 2009 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
“So when we look at the cars and look back at what we’ve been able to do with the cars as an industry, we’ve been able to make improvements,” said Dr. John Patalak, NASCAR’s senior director of safety engineering. “The one you’ve referenced in 2013 with the additional roll bars and the roof and the windshield area … we were also able to do things with the laminate windshield in 2013 and improved window net mounting in 2013.
“All of those things really contribute and work together as an assembly to improve the overall outcomes to what we saw in Daytona.”
Both Newman’s car and the No. 32 of Corey LaJoie, which collided with Newman’s Ford as it flipped upside-down, were destroyed in the wreck, and both were taken to NASCAR’s R&D Center in Concord, N.C., for further inspection and evaluation.
No information on Newman’s medical condition was released on Saturday due to HIPAA laws, and the three men on the panel were somewhat limited in the information they did provide.
“With his (Newman’s) engineering background, he’s been someone who we have turned to in many times talking about safety enhancements,” noted O’Donnell. “One of the reasons you won’t hear as many details today is (because) we still haven’t had the chance to go through this with Ryan and his team, with the other drivers in the garage, but Ryan’s feedback as we go through this will be key, and I think that’ll be a key component as it’s always been throughout the process when he’s been racing.”
O’Donnell was firm in the stance that NASCAR’s overtime procedures will not change as a knee-jerk reaction to Monday’s crash, but he did say that potential changes to the aero rules could be made prior to the next superspeedway race at Talladega in April.
“We’re going to look at everything in terms of the speeds and liftoff,” O’Donnell said. “You’ve heard me say many times before that we never want a car to get airborne, so we’ll look at how that occurred around the speeds.
“We’ll look at the racing procedures we have in place as well. All of that will be on the table as we head into Talladega. If we need to make adjustments around the aero balance and speeds as it relates to safety, we’ll do that.”