(WJHL/AP)- In a statement on Twitter late Monday night NASCAR officials released an update on driver Ryan Newman’s condition after a fiery crash at the tail end of the Daytona 500.
Safety crews rushed to Newman’s No. 6 Ford and worked to get the 42-year-old driver out of his seat. The car was on fire as it skidded to a stop and had to be turned onto its tires first.
Ryan Blaney, who locked bumpers with Newman and turned him sideways, sounded crestfallen. Corey LaJoie, who slammed into Newman’s sideways car at full speed, watched a replay and insisted he had no way to avoid the contact. Fox Sports analyst and four-time Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon may have summed it up best.
“Safety’s come a long way in this sport, but sometimes we are reminded that it is a very dangerous sport,” Gordon said quietly as the broadcast came to a close with Newman’s condition still unknown.
NASCAR delivered the news nearly two hours after Newman was extricated from his car, saying he is in serious condition at nearby Halifax Medical Center. The wait for the update was excruciating for fellow NASCAR drivers and fans across auto racing who spent the time wondering how seriously he was hurt.
The statement below says in part, “He is in serious condition, but doctors have indicated his injuries are not life threatening.”
It wasn’t the first crash like this for Newman at Daytona or at another superspeedway, the Talladega track in Alabama. His car went airborne and flipped repeatedly in the 2003 Daytona 500. He landed on his roof in that one and did again at Talladega in 2009.
He’s been a harsh critic of NASCAR’s struggles to keep cars on the ground, even getting fined for public comments the sanctioning body considered negative. In 2010, he said fans shouldn’t even go to the track to see races at Talladega.
The Indiana native, who graduated with an engineering degree from Purdue, said earlier during Speedweeks he felt renewed in his second year at Roush Fenway Racing.
“It’s all about competitiveness and fun,” he said. “I want to have fun with my life. If I can have fun in this garage doing it and get paid what I feel like I deserve to get paid, then I’m all for it. It’s got to be fun and it’s got be rewarding in more ways than one.
“I’m doing it past when I said I was going to do it 10 years ago. I don’t know how to give the answer anymore, I really don’t. I always said 40 and I’m 42 now.”
Newman also announced last week he and his wife had split after 16 years of marriage. They have two daughters together and both girls were at his side in the moments before Sunday’s race began, only to be delayed a day by rain.
“I feel just renewed in general, the team, the people, the opportunities, the sponsors,” he said. “All that makes a big difference to me. We’ve got to perform better. Just because we performed better than they had done in the past doesn’t mean it’s up to my standards and my goals.
“I feel like we need to step it up and that’s a big part of me wanting to continue doing what I’m doing.”