DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - FOX 35 News spoke exclusively with NASCAR driver Ryan Newman as he prepares to race the Daytona 500 one year after he was involved in a fiery crash at the same speedway.
In the 2020 Daytona 500, Ryan Newman was leading the race in the final lap. However, he was caught in the back by another racer's bumper, sending him right into a wall. His car flipped, rolled, and was hit on the driver's side by another car before finally skidding across the finish line with his roof engulfed in flames.
Ryan Newman, driver of the #6 Koch Industries Ford, crashes and flips during the NASCAR Cup Series 62nd Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Ryan Newman collides with Corey LaJoie during the Daytona 500 on February 17, 2020. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Thankfully, Newman survived the massive crash and will race again in the 2021 Daytona 500. He has previously stated that he has no memory of the crash.
FOX 35 News anchor Ryan Elijah spoke exclusively to Newman about last year's race, the incoming one, and how his team has adjusted to the COVID-19 on Good Day Orlando.
WATCH: FOX 35 Exclusive Interview with NASCAR driver Ryan Newman
Newman explained that after getting out of the hospital, "it just felt like God flipped my switch back on when I walked out of the hospital, it was crazy. I don’t remember anything prior to and I know they had me on some pretty heavy medications, which makes sense. I don’t know what percentage of it was the injury and what percentage of it was the medication."
However, he believes the experience has helped him appreciate life more and he is thankful for everyone who helped save him that day.
"Thankful for all the people that helped rescue me, save me, and heal me. I think the man upstairs deserves most of that credit and people’s prayers go a long way," he said. "It’s really just a magnifier for someone that’s already grateful. I feel like I was always pretty thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had in our sport and my life. But at the same time, I feel like it magnified that. It’s powerful. I won’t say it changed me but it exaggerated the things that needed to be exaggerated."
He added that "the fact that I can’t remember anything of what happened, I think it's God’s way of saying just keep doing what you love."
Regarding the incoming season, Newman said that he is excited but also sad that he will not be able to connect with fans like in previous years.
"I’m excited about the schedule. I’m excited about a lot of things. Except for the fact that we aren’t fully engaged with our fans getting back because of the way the world is spinning right now. But in the end, I hope we can get to that. And that we can create that passionate fan base that we’ve had at the race tracks. We still have it, don’t get me wrong. But have them at the race tracks is different," he said. "It’s very important in my opinion, there’s nothing like live-action."
Nonetheless, Newman and his team's eyes are set on winning.
"We’re there to win. Our team is focused and we gotta have raw speed in our cars, we gotta have fast, competitive cars, and we gotta do our jobs and then get a little bit lucky," he said.
Watch the 2021 Daytona 500 live on FOX 35 at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, February 14. Pre-race coverage begins at 1 p.m. that day. The Good Day Orlando team will also have special coverage of the event at the speedway on Friday and Sunday morning.