Four spectators were treated for injuries as a result of the massive wreck at the end of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Coke Zero 400, with one fan transported to a local hospital in stable condition. Austin Dillon’s car became airborne in the pile-up, smashing through the part of the catch fence that separates fans from the track.
All but three cars still on the track at the finish of the NASCAR race were involved in the pile-up. Here’s the broadcast view of the wreck, showing the extent of the damage from another angle:
Even though Dale Earnhardt Jr. had driven an excellent race from start to finish to claim the win, he told NBC Sports that he and second place finisher Jimmie Johnson were more concerned about all of the cars and fans involved in the major accident than they were with discussing their own close battle throughout the race.
“It scared the shit out of me,” said Earnhardt Jr. in the post-race press conference. “I was near tears. You just don’t want to see anybody get hurt. It’s an awful feeling.”
Because they were one of the closest pit stalls to the accident, many of Earnhardt’s and Casey Mears’ crew members were the first to arrive at Dillon’s wrecked car. Fans cheered when crew members gave the thumbs-up sign that Dillon was conscious and seemed to be okay. Not only did Dillon’s car fly into the fence, but it was hit again after it came to rest by Brad Keselowski’s spinning car.
From the multiple angles released of this crash, we’re extremely thankful that all of the drivers involved were okay and that injuries sustained by fans who were near the destroyed catch fence were not any worse. We wish all four injured fans a speedy recovery.
Update [3:12 a.m.]: According to NBC’s Nate Ryan, NASCAR is reporting that Austin Dillon has been checked and released from the infield care center.
Update #2 [3:54 a.m.]: Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood updated the press on the injured fans in the grandstands.
The number of injured spectators has been updated above.
Update #3 [12:21 p.m.]: Here is an additional view of the wreck looking straight down at it from in the stands.
Update #4 [5:31 p.m.]: ESPN is now reporting that five spectators were injured in last night’s accident. The hospitalized fan was released from the hospital Monday morning.
Furthermore, ESPN reports the extent of Austin Dillon’s injuries: a bruised tailbone and a bruised forearm. Many find this simply remarkable given the nature of his accident.
“I’m shocked that Austin Dillon is even alive from what he went through,” said Jimmie Johnson after the race, as quoted by ESPN. “It was just a frightening moment. I saw it in the mirror and, man, I expected the worst when I came back around.”
Although NASCAR race cars are already extraordinarily safe for the drivers, the series and the track’s attention is now on investigating what can be done to make races safer for everyone at the races, especially the fans.
Photo credit: Getty Images
Contact the author at email@example.com.