Ryan Newman is in serious condition after a devastating crash on the last lap of the Daytona 500, but his injuries are not life-threatening.
Tragedy was narrowly avoided on the final lap of the Daytona 500 on Monday night. NASCAR Cup Series driver Ryan Newman was involved in a devastating wreck, one that overshadowed Denny Hamlin’s second consecutive victory in The Great American Race.
Here's the end of the Daytona 500 – Denny Hamlin wins his third but the real story is Ryan Newman, who ended up on his roof after a scary crash at the finish. pic.twitter.com/m4dSy1Jrvx
— Zach Harig (@zach_harig) February 18, 2020
Newman was immediately escorted to a local hospital after he was removed from the car. Later reports from NASCAR and Newman’s Roush Fenway Racing team confirmed that he was in serious condition, but that doctors believe his injuries are not life-threatening.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) February 18, 2020
— RFK Racing (@RFKracing) February 18, 2020
Newman had the lead entering the race’s final turn, being pushed by the No. 12 Ford of Ryan Blaney. However, his No. 6 Ford got loose as it approached the start/finish line. His car slammed into the wall and Corey LaJoie’s No. 32 Ford collided with Newman on the driver’s side. Newman’s car flipped on its roof, grinding across the finish line in a shower of sparks and flames. Safety crews were able to quickly descend upon the car and get the flames out and remove Newman from the wreck.
Hamlin wound up holding off Blaney by 0.014 seconds to capture his third overall victory in the 500. It was the second-smallest margin of victory in the history of the event, with Hamlin also owning a 0.01-seconds victory over Martin Truex Jr. in 2016. Hamlin and his No. 11 Toyota team celebrated the historic win (Hamlin is now one of only six drivers with the race at least three times), unaware of the severity of Newman’s crash. Team owner Joe Gibbs apologized in victory lane for the display, while Hamlin expressed his prayers and condolences to Newman and his family.
“I was focused on our car, and everybody started celebrating it around us,” Gibbs said, per Michelle R. Martinelli of USA Today. “So I said to everybody out there, some people may have saw us and said, ‘Well, these guys are celebrating when there’s this serious issue going on.’ So 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.”
“It’s a weird balance of excitement and happiness for yourself, and obviously, someone’s health and their family’s bigger than any win in any sport,” Hamlin said in the same report. “So we’re just hoping for the best.”
Newman has been racing in the Cup Series on a full-time basis since the 2002 season. He has earned 18 wins at the Cup level (including the 2008 Daytona 500) with his best finish in the standings being a runner-up spot in 2014. Recently, Newman has been one of the more consistent drivers on the circuit in terms of running at the finish. Since 2014, he has failed to finish only seven races.
The 62nd annual running of the season-opening Daytona 500 began on Sunday afternoon, but inclement weather stopped the race after 20 of 200 scheduled laps. Monday’s rescheduled racing was incident-free for most of the late afternoon-into-evening, but several multi-car wrecks took out several renowned names and contenders. Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson were among those lost to two heavy accidents that brought out red flags. Defending series champion Kyle Busch led late, but engine woes denied him his first victory in the 500. Newman’s crash came in the overtime portion of the race, as more accidents caused a total of 209 laps to be run.
Newman’s Roush Fenway Racing teammate Chris Buescher came in third, while David Ragan and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five.