DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - NASCAR says Ryan Newman is in serious condition, but doctors have indicated his injuries are not life-threatening following a fiery crash at the Daytona 500 on Monday.
"He's been transported to Halifax Medical Center undergoing further treatment and evaluation," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President, during a brief statement to the media late Monday evening.
Denny Hamlin won the Daytona 500 for the third time when he beat Ryan Blaney to the finish line. However, the post-race scene this year was somewhat subdued out of concern for Newman, who was wrecked as the leader and crossed the finish line with his car on its roof, engulfed in flames.
Crews respond to a wreck involving Ryan Newman, driver of the #6 Koch Industries Ford, after the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Newman, driver of the No. 6 Koch Industries Ford, and Corey LaJoie, driver of the No. 32 RagingBull.com Ford collided during the last lap of the race at Daytona International Speedway. LaJoie watched a replay and insisted he had no way to avoid the contact. Fox Sports analyst and four-time Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon may have summed it up best.
"Safety's come a long way in this sport, but sometimes we are reminded that it is a very dangerous sport," Gordon said quietly as the broadcast came to a close with Newman's condition still unknown.
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 17: Ryan Newman, driver of the #6 Koch Industries Ford, and Corey LaJoie, driver of the #32 RagingBull.com Ford, crash during the last lap of the NASCAR Cup Series 62nd Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Spe
As Newman went door-to-door with Blaney for the finish — the 0.014 margin of victory was the second closest in race history — Newman took a wild ride along the track when he crashed trying to hold onto the lead.
Newman had surged into the lead on the final lap when Blaney’s bumper caught the back of his Ford and sent Newman hard right into the wall. His car flipped, rolled, was hit on the driver’s side by another car, and finally skidded across the finish line.
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 17: Ryan Newman, driver of the #6 Koch Industries Ford, flips over as he crashes during the NASCAR Cup Series 62nd Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida.
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 12: Ryan Newman, driver of the #6 Koch Industries Ford, speaks with the media during the NASCAR Cup Series 62nd Annual Daytona 500 Media Day at Daytona International Speedway on February 12, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Fl
Newman reportedly was extracted from his car and taken directly to a local hospital by ambulance to Halifax Health Medical Center, a Level II Trauma Center which serves Volusia County.
Safety workers rolled Newman’s car back onto its wheels before he was removed. It took several minutes for his car to be rolled back onto its wheels.
“I think we take for granted sometimes how safe the cars are and number one, we are praying for Ryan,” Hamlin said.
Runner-up Blaney said the way the final lap shook out, with Newman surging ahead of Hamlin, that Blaney locked in behind Newman in a move of brand alliance for Ford.
“We pushed Newman there to the lead and then we got a push from the 11... I was committed to just pushing him to the win and having a Ford win it and got the bumpers hooked up wrong. It looked bad,” he said.
Hamlin said he was unaware of Newman's situation when he initially began his celebration. It wasn't until Fox Sports told him they would not interview him on the front stretch after his burnouts that Hamlin learned Newman's incident was bad.
"It's a weird balance of excitement and happiness for yourself, but someone's health and their family is bigger than any win in any sport," he said. "We are just hoping for the best."
Team owner Joe Gibbs apologized after the race for the winning team celebration.
"We didn't know until victory lane," Gibbs said. "I know that for a lot of us, participating in sports and being in things where there are some risks, in a way, that's what they get excited about. Racing, we know what can happen, we just dream it doesn't happen. We are all just praying now for the outcome on this."
The wait for the update was excruciating for fellow NASCAR drivers and fans across auto racing who spent the time wondering how seriously he was hurt.
"We appreciate your thoughts and prayers and ask that you respect the privacy of Ryan and his family during this time," Roush Fenway Racing tweeted just after 10 p.m. "We appreciate your patience and cooperation and we will provide more information as it becomes available."
Breathtaking crashes are common at Daytona International Speedway, where drivers racing for position at 200 mph and in tight quarters often make contact.
Austin Dillon memorably crashed into the catch fence on the final lap of the 2015 July race at Daytona and remarkably walked away unscathed. Dillon's car went airborne and tore down part of the fence and injured several fans. Dillon's torn car, with its engine already resting on another part of the track, ended up on its roof and then was smashed into by Brad Keselowski's car.
Hamlin is the first back-to-back Daytona winner since Sterling Marlin in 1995. He joined six Hall of Fame drivers as winners of three or more Daytona 500s. He tied Dale Jarrett — who gave JGR its first Daytona 500 win in 1993 — Jeff Gordon and Bobby Allison. Hamlin trails Cale Yarborough’s four wins and the record seven by Richard Petty.
This victory came after just the second rain postponement in 62 years, a visit from President Donald Trump, a pair of red flag stoppages and two overtimes.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.