Daytona: Horrific Wreck, Fans Injured

Daytona, Fla. – Several cars crashed and disintegrated Saturday in front of the grandstand at the end of a NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway.

It was unclear immediately if anyone in the stands was seriously injured, but the engine from Kyle Larson’s car, which flew high and tore into the fence at the start-finish line, was seen burning inside an open area in the fence, and a large portion of the car appeared to go over the fence.

A tire came over the fence, and a lot of debris came up into the stands, where safety crews were working on at least five people, including four who were strapped to backboards. And at least two people were injured in the upper deck, where another safety crew with an additional two stretchers were sent.

Safety crews and police have closed off the area, escorting fans out of the area.

NASCAR president Mike Helton said the series and track were working furiously to figure out the damage.

“Right now all we know is everyone is working really hard to determine what all happened,” Helton said during an ESPN interview.

Tony Stewart, who won the race by avoiding the crashing cars, appeared shaken after the race.

“We’ve always known since racing was started this was a dangerous sport, but we assume that risk, and it’s hard when the fans get caught up in it,” he said from Victory Lane. “So as much as we want to celebrate now and as much as this is a big deal to us, I’m more worried about the drivers and the fans in the stands right now, because I could see it all in the mirror, and it didn’t look good from where I was at, either.”

The Drive4COPD 300 had restarted with two laps remaining in the 120-lap race after it had been interrupted by a multicar pileup that resulted in driver Michael Annett being sent to a nearby hospital. As the field raced to the white flag signaling the final lap, Regan Smith’s car was turned sideways.

“I threw a block there,” Smith said. “I knew Brad (Keselowski) was going to try to make a move on me. … If I’m in the same situation tomorrow (in the Daytona 500), I’ll do the same thing again.”

As cars began to spin, Larson’s car became airborne and ripped into the catch fence. When it came to a stop, its engine was missing.

“I took a couple of big hits there and saw my engine was gone,” Larson said.

NASCAR officials said all drivers involved in the second massive wreck were treated and released.

After being treated and released, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said everyone “seems in good spirits” among the drivers who were in the care center, but Earnhardt expressed concern for those in the grandstands. “Guess some debris went up there,” he said. “I’m worried about everybody up there.”

Source: Associated Press