Denny Hamlin won the Daytona 500, which took two days to complete due to inclement weather and was started by President Donald Trump, but the 62nd version of the race will mostly be remembered for the grisly wreck involving Ryan Newman on the final lap.
The frightening crash occurred when fellow Ford driver Ryan Blaney nudged Newman’s No. 6 car ahead of Hamlin on the backstretch. But extra contact forced Newman to spin out, as his car flung violently into the wall and flipped into the air before being hit hard again by Corey LaJoie as he crossed the finish line. Newman’s car landed on its roof and skidding across the track.
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Rescue teams immediately respond to Ryan Newman crash
Workers turned Newman’s car right side up before extracting him. According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, an ambulance carrying Newman left Daytona’s frontstretch at 8:10 p.m. with sirens on.
Ryan Newman’s injuries are not life threatening
Newman was taken to Halifax Medical Center for treatment. Shortly after 10 p.m., Roush Fenway Racing, Newman’s team, said he was in “serious condition.”
“But doctors have indicated his injuries are not life threatening,” the team said in a statement. “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.”
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs apologize for celebrating Daytona 500 win
Initially, Hamlin did not realize the severity of the crash and planned on celebrating his second straight Daytona 500 victory. But he and team owner Joe Gibbs both apologized for celebrating until they arrived at Victory Lane, when they learned Newman had been taken to the hospital.
“I apologize to everybody, but we really didn’t know. We got in the winner’s circle, and that’s when people told us later,” Gibbs said. “Racing for us, we know what can happen. You just don’t dream that it would happen.”
Ryan Blaney, crew chief explains what led to Ryan Newman crash
Blaney’s crew chief said both Blaney and Newman were going for the win.
“Cars didn’t line up perfectly, and (Newman) spun,” Todd Gordon told USA TODAY Sports and NASCAR.com.
“We were coming so fast it’s hard to make a quick move, especially with someone pushing you,” Blaney said.
“He blocked the top, and then he blocked the bottom too, and at that point when he blocked the bottom, I was just committed to pushing to win, try to get a Ford to win instead of [Hamlin].”
As for LaJoie, who hit Newman after he’d already flipped, he told reporters he had “nowhere to go but smoke.”
NASCAR safety lauded by Denny Hamlin
Less than two decades ago, a crash on the final lap of the Daytona 500 took the life of racing legend Dale Earnhardt Sr. But NASCAR is a safer sport now than it was then, Hamlin said.
“NASCAR has done a fantastic job of evolution of race cars,” said Hamlin, who has won three of the last five Daytona 500 races. “Helmet manufacturers, suit manufacturers, HANS devices (head and neck support), there’s just been so much development that’s come a long way, and I always think about how blessed I am to come in this sport in 2006 when all that stuff was really being implemented.”
President Donald Trump, Pete Buttigieg extend well wishes to Ryan Newman
Trump took interest in the race throughout Sunday and Monday and said he was praying for Newman.
Newman, a native of South bend, Indiana, received well wishes from the town’s mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.
Contributing: Michelle Martinelli, USA TODAY Sports; Daytona Beach News-Journal