DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – This year’s Daytona 500 race ended with less celebration and more concern for a fellow driver after the race wrapped up with Ryan Newman’s vehicle on its top.
The NASCAR driver, who led for 15 laps of the race before Denny Hamlin ultimately crossed the finish line first, was seriously injured in the fiery crash, which sent his car airborne during overtime.
Newman’s crash was difficult to watch, but it wasn’t the first time a Daytona race ended with an upside-down wreck.
NASCAR fans might remember some others throughout racing history.
For example, there was a much different outcome for Clint Bowyer in 2007, when the driver finished the Daytona 500 race on his roof. Unlike Newman in this year’s race, Bowyer was able to walk away from the crash. Newman had to be removed from his vehicle by crews before he was rushed to a Central Florida hospital in serious condition.
Bowyer’s car wasn’t hit with anywhere near the force Newman took.
Austin Dillon also went airborne and into the fence at Daytona in 2015, though it was during a July race. Dillon was also able to walk away from his vehicle after the crash.
In February of 2000, Geoff Bodine hit the fence and sparked a fiery crash during a truck race at Daytona. He was seriously hurt, as were nine spectators, but survived. Bodine was racing again in less than two months.
Rather than the door, Newman was hit on his driver’s-side window area, where his only protection -- aside from the roll cage and the head and neck support system (HANS) -- is a nylon mesh net where the window would be.
If you look carefully at a Getty photo from this year’s race, you can clearly see Newman’s car appears to be bent after the initial impact with the 32 car. There is heavy damage to the A pillar (windshield post).
Other drivers have died in NASCAR wrecks when their heads violently moved and couldn’t be supported by their necks -- something known as a basilar skull fracture.
Aside from Dale Earnhardt’s death at Daytona in 2001 from a BSF, Adam Petty -- Richard Petty’s grandson -- was killed at the New Hampshire track in May of 2000 after hitting the wall when the throttle of his car got stuck. Those deaths were two in a string of five BSF driver deaths over an 11-month period for NASCAR. All of them took place before the HANS device was added to vehicles.
This year’s crash wasn’t Newman’s first either, Newman has also flipped in spectacular fashion twice before at superspeedways -- at the Daytona 500 in 2003 and at Talladega in 2009. Newman’s crash comes one night before the 19-year mark of Earnhardt’s death.
About 10 years ago, Newman was fined by NASCAR for openly criticizing fan safety at superspeedway races.
Newman has been on the Cup level of NASCAR since 2000 and has won 18 Cup races.
He won the Daytona 500 in 2008 while driving for Penske, marking Penske’s first Daytona 500 win. He has raced for Penske, Stewart-Haas and Richard Childress Racing. This is Newman’s second year with Roush Fenway Racing.
Newman’s nickname is Rocket Man, which he earned after a string of pole positions in 2003. He was NASCAR Rookie of the Year in 2002 and Driver of the Year in 2003.