DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Ryan Newman was seriously injured in a violent crash on the final lap of the 62nd Daytona 500 Monday evening at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
Newman was leading the field to the checkered flag when his No. 6 Ford was hit from behind in an attempt to push Newman to the win.
According to NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer, Newman is in serious but stable condition at nearby Halifax Health Hospital with “non-life threatening injuries.”
“Ryan Newman is being treated at Halifax Medical Center,” read the statement from Roush Fenway Racing. “He is in serious condition, but doctors have indicated his injuries are not life threatening. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers and ask that you respect the privacy of Ryan and his family during this time. We appreciate your patience and cooperation and we will provide more information as it becomes available.”
No other details will be announced and the Roush Fenway Racing team requested that fans and media respect the privacy of Newman and his family.
“We’re grateful for the news about Ryan,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports. “We had been waiting for information just like everyone else, so to hear some positive news tonight is a relief. Ryan has been an important part of the Roush Fenway and Ford NASCAR program this past year, and he is so respected for being a great competitor by everyone in the sport. The entire Ford family is sending positive thoughts for his recovery, but our first thoughts remain with his family and his team.”
Ryan Blaney made the move to help fellow Ford driver Newman to the win, but when he made contact with the back of Newman’s car, it turned Newman’s car hard to the left. Newman’s car hit the outside wall heading to the tri-oval with the checkered flag waving. The impact sent Newman’s car flying into the air near the flagstand before landing upside-down at the finish line.
The car skidded on its hood before Corey LaJoie’s Ford hit Newman’s window net on the driver’s side. With only the window net protecting Newman’s cockpit, the massive second impact further destroyed Newman’s car.
It continued to skid down the frontstraight before coming to a stop near the exit of pit road. As it was upside down, gasoline began to spill from the fuel tank with Newman trapped inside of the race car.
“I heard he (Newman) went straight to the hospital,” LaJoie said. “That’s obviously scary. I got a big push there that last coming to the white. I don’t know who was pushing me and I kind of stalled out and I don’t know who hooked Newman. I was hoping he would kind of bounce off the fence to the left, but he didn’t and I hit him. I don’t know exactly where I hit him. I haven’t seen a replay.
“It was some scary stuff. Don’t get me wrong. My car was on fire. My seat belts grabbed all sorts of areas. I hope Ryan is OK.”
As Denny Hamlin was circling the track further ahead after winning his second-straight Daytona 500, AMR Safety Workers arrived at the scene of Newman’s crash to first extinguish the fire and tend to the spilled gasoline.
The AMR Safety crew eventually brought out a black curtain to shield the wreckage from the spectators. Newman was taken by ambulance to Halifax Health, located less than one mile from Daytona Int’l speedway’s fourth turn.
Hamlin, who was running third on the inside, raced past Blaney to win the second-closest finish in Daytona 500 history. The margin was just .014 of a second.
“We pushed Newman there to the lead, and then we got a push from the 11 (Hamlin), and I made a move off turn four on Newman and he blocked it,” Blaney explained, before word of Newman’s fate was announced. “I went low and he blocked that, so then I was committed to just pushing him to the win and trying to have a Ford win it.
“I don’t know, we just got bumpers hooked up wrong and turned him. I hope he’s all right. I was definitely trying to push him to a win.
“I really feel bad about it. I hope Ryan is all right.”
Victory lane was suddenly subdued as the grim events were being played out by safety workers on the frontstretch.
This was not a victory the winning team could celebrate.
“When everything happened at the end of the race, I knew that there was a race, but I never even focused over there (the crash), I was focusing on our car, and everybody started celebrating around us,” said Joe Gibbs, Hamlin’s team owner. “Some people may have saw us and said, well, these guys are celebrating when there’s a serious issue going on, apologize to everybody, but we really didn’t know.
“We got in the winner’s circle, and then that’s when people told us.
“It just makes it so hard. Such a close‑knit community. You know everybody. This is one thing, kind of like what Denny was saying, if you think about all the wrecks that we’ve had over the last, I don’t know, how many number of years, and some of them looked real serious, we’ve been so fortunate.
“So now it’s hard, we’re all waiting.”
Gibbs is a man of deep religious faith and conviction. He was asked by SPEED SPORT to put the day into perspective.
“I certainly don’t have those kinds of answers,” Gibbs told SPEED SPORT. “I know that for a lot of us, participating in sports and being in things where there’s some risk, it’s just what some people are‑‑ that’s what they’re‑‑ in a way, that’s what they get excited about, and certainly racing for us, we know what can happen. You just don’t dream that it would happen.
“And that’s kind of the way I feel about it. We’ve been so fortunate for such a long time, and we’re just all praying now for the outcome of this.
“I don’t think somebody has that answer. I don’t think we have an answer. It’s just living life. Certainly you are depending in a lot of ways for the Lord, and you’re looking up to Him.
“But I wouldn’t want to get too philosophical for anybody here. I’d just say it’s a time that we’re all searching deep and praying, and we’re all praying for the right outcome.”