DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — NASCAR driver Ryan Newman was involved in a horrific crash just as Denny Hamlin won the Daytona 500 Monday at Daytona International Speedway.
Newman in the No. 6 Ford surged to the lead on the last lap of the race — which was delayed from Sunday because of rain — with the help of Ford teammate Ryan Blaney. But Newman’s car turned and slammed into the wall after more contact from Blaney’s No. 12 then flipped into the air before being hit hard again by Corey LaJoie’s Ford before landing on its roof and skidding across the track.
Fire and sparks shot out from the car as it slid from the track and onto pit road.
Safety crews rushed to the car once it stopped sliding to put the fire out and get Newman out of the car. He was taken to a local hospital, according to FOX’s broadcast. But his condition remains unknown.
“I hope he’s all right,” a noticeably shaken Blaney said on pit road after finishing second. “That looked really bad and not something you want to do. Definitely unintentional.
“I was just committing to pushing him to the win once he blocked a couple times, was kind of beat. Just hope Ryan’s all right. It sucks to lose a race, but you never want to see anyone get hurt.”
Hamlin won his second straight Daytona 500, while Chris Buescher finished third. Team owner Joe Gibbs repeatedly apologized for celebrating, saying the team did not realize the severity of Newman’s wreck.
Going into the final lap, Hamlin in the No. 11 Toyota was out front with Newman and Blaney right behind him, respectively. The two Ford drivers went to the bottom of the track, and Blaney gave Newman a huge push as they both passed Hamlin on the backstretch of the 2.5-mile track.
With Hamlin in third, he then gave Blaney a push as they chased Newman.
“A big run and [Hamlin] was pushing us pretty hard,” Blaney’s crew chief, Todd Gordon, told USA TODAY Sports. “Had a run and you gotta try to take it. Ryan pulled down in front of it, and Blaney tried to push him. And cars didn’t line up perfectly, and he spun.”
Blaney said he was trying to push Newman ahead of Hamlin to try to get a Ford to victory lane instead of the Toyota, but it “just kind of played out in [Hamlin’s] favor.”
“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].”
Concerned about Newman’s condition, Blaney reiterated that causing him to spin was unintentional.
“I would be [shaken up] too if I looked at that,” Gordon said about his driver. “Unfortunately, it’s a product of what this package is and how much of a run you make on everything. Hopefully, Ryan Newman’s all right.”