The 62nd running of the Daytona 500 ended late on Monday night after a rain delay Sunday night. The event, however, ended in tragedy after a brutal last lap crash saw No. 6 driver Ryan Newman hospitalized while Denny Hamlin celebrated victory.
The tight last-lap race to the checkered flag promised to be an exciting one with Hamlin battling for his third 500 win, Ryan Blaney his first, and Newman his second. The cars were racing closely, using the draft to push each other closer to the line. However, Blaney caught Newman’s car, causing the No. 6 to flip and crash into the barrier. His car was then struck in the driver’s side by an oncoming car, that of Corey LaJoie. The car slid down the track upside down before it came to rest, on fire and leaking fuel.
Celebrations at Daytona International Speedway took place as usual for quite a while after an accident that took an uncomfortably long time for safety crews to arrive on the scene. Denny Hamlin ripped donuts on the grass, the broadcast replayed the accident, and several NASCAR affiliated Twitter accounts made questionable tweets that seemed to ignore the gravity of the situation at hand. Some tweets have been deleted while others currently remain up.
NASCAR then made another bad call in continuing to interview drivers, especially those directly involved in the crash. Ryan Blaney appeared to be in shock, struggling for words to describe what had happened. The broadcast ended quickly with no further updates, as it had run overtime. Joe Gibbs has offered an apology for Hamlin’s celebration, saying that the team were not aware of the severity of the accident.
Footage has been released showing the spotting commentary following Hamlin’s win, and his spotter Chris Lambert has released some tweets regarding his perception of events:
Corey LaJoie has also spoken out about his role in the accident:
Newman has been extracted from the vehicle under the cover of black screens to prevent fans and media from seeing, and he has just arrived at Halifax Hospital. His condition is not known, but we will provide updates as we have them.
Update 10:04 PM Monday, February 17, 2020: NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell has confirmed via NASCAR Press Pass that Newman has sustained serious injuries, but doctors have stated that they do not believe the injuries are life-threatening. Newman will continue to undergo treatment, but no further details are available at this time.