DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Ryan Newman has barrel-rolled his way through many terrifying crashes over his 20-year NASCAR career. This one, though, caused the sport to pause.
Newman slid across the finish line in a crumpled heap of metal, sparks flying as his car skidded to a halt with fuel pouring onto the track frighteningly close to open flames.
Everyone gasped as track workers placed large black screens around his car and worked to get him out. They had to wait two excruciating hours to finally exhale.
The 42-year-old Newman was involved in a ghastly crash on the final lap of the Daytona 500 on Monday night and everyone feared the worst. NASCAR has not had a fatality in its elite Cup Series since 2001, but this wreck just looked different.
It took two long hours before NASCAR announced Newman had non-life threatening injuries and was in serious condition at nearby Halifax Medical Center.
“We had been waiting for information just like everyone else, so to hear some positive news tonight is a relief,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director for Ford Performance Motorsports. "The entire Ford family is sending positive thoughts for his recovery, but our first thoughts remain with his family and his team.”
Safety crews rushed to Newman's No. 6 Ford and worked to get the “Rocketman” out of his seat. The car was on fire as it skidded to a stop and had to be turned onto its tires before he could be unstrapped. Fox opted not to broadcast Newman's removal.
Ryan Blaney, who locked bumpers with Newman and turned him sideways, sounded crestfallen afterward. 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.