NASCAR: Late Race Crash Leaves Dozens of Fans Injured
Nearly 30 fans were injured at the Daytona International Speedway on Saturday after a 12 car wreck on the final lap sent debris, a tire and a car engine into the fans.
Turner Scott Motorsports' driver Kyle Larson became air borne during the last lap wreck, ripping through the fence and sending both his tire and engine into the grandstands. Debris rained over both the track and the fans, as several more cars spun below Larson. Police and track safety workers were quick on scene to treat the wounded, and soon began evacuating the stands.
The initial incident was caused when Reagan Smith was turned around, collecting several other cars after making contact with the wall. As the cars came together, Larson was stuck in the middle of the pack, and as he collided with another car he was sent into the air. After Larson landed his car was briefly on fire before sliding to a halt.
No drivers were injured in the crash.
Over a dozen fans were treated on sight for injuries, but a dozen more were sent to area hospitals for further treatment, with one in life threatening condition and one child having serious injuries. They were upgraded to stable condition on Sunday morning. Several fans were also treated for heat-related illnesses.
Race winner Tony Stewart was more concerned with the injured fans than celebrating his victory, his seventh Nationwide Series win at the track.
"The important thing is what going on on the front stretch right now," said Stewart, the three-time NASCAR champion. "We've always known, and since racing started, this is a dangerous sport. But it's hard. We assume that risk, but it's hard when the fans get caught up in it.
NASCAR crews worked throughout the night to repair the catch fence. It was announced Sunday morning that NASCAR would accommodate those fans who had bought tickets for that area if they wished to move.
The Daytona 500 went off without a hitch on Sunday, with Jimmie Johnson winning his second 500, followed by teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Mark Martin. Favorites Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick were taken after early in a lap 34 crash.
Thanks to NASCAR on SPEED, NASCAR.com, Daytona International Raceway, NASCAR on FOX, Racing Reference, CBS News and USA Today for the information, statistics and quotes used in this piece.