Ryan Newman crash reminds us of how dangerous Daytona really is

By Tommy Lipscomb
Feb. 19, 2020

The 2020 Daytona 500 was a race that many of us will remember for a very long time. If not for Denny Hamlin winning his second straight victory in the prestigious race, it will be for the horrific crash on the last lap that sent Ryan Newman to the hospital. Ryan Blaney's botched bump draft attempt sent Newman into the wall. When Newman's car started to drift back down the banking, he was blasted by Corey Lajoie who was at top speed, sending the 21-year veteran in Newman high into the air before crashing down on the pavement and skidding to a fiery stop just passed the finish line. The wreck sent Newman to the trauma center at the Halifax Health Medical Center.


Crashes, often known as "The Big One" happen all the time in Nascar. But we know the severity of the crash involving Newman almost as soon as it happened. The scene was so horrific that Nascar officials held up black tarps to keep the graphic scene blinded from the media and fans. His crew rushed to the scene of the crash along with Nascar officials and one crew member answered a question with a somber "no" when asked if Newman was ok. Luckily, Newman survived the brutal crash and is currently awake and speaking to family and doctors.


To me, this is a reminder of how dangerous Daytona can be. Cars going more than 200mph and running extremely close can cause a disaster. Since the existence of Nascar, there have been 28 fatalities. Daytona has claimed the most lives with eight drivers passing away after crashes at the famed superspeedway. Dale Earnhardt was the most famous (and last) driver to die in a Nascar race and that was at the Daytona 500 in 2001. Neil Bonnet and Rodney Orr passed away at the track three days apart in 1994 in crashes during practice. This shows just how jeopardous the track can be. Bruce Jacobi, Ricky Knotts, Friday Hassler, Talmadge Prince, and Billy Wade were the other drivers to lose their lives at Daytona.


The good news for Nascar drivers is how committed the organization is to safety. Between strict safety requirements for each car and safer barriers, there hasn't been a fatality since 2001. Ryan Newman is an example of how far safety in Nascar has come throughout the years. There is no doubt in my mind that if this was 20 years ago, Newman wouldn't have survived this crash. Imagine running 200mph, losing control and hitting the wall head-on, and then drifting back down and getting plowed by another car at 200mph as well. That's two very hard impacts and we haven't even considered the impact of hitting the pavement after flying through the air. This accident proves how safe that Nascar has become. While the future for Ryan Newman is unknown, we at least know that he has the chance to race again, pending on the outcome of his injuries. Well done Nascar, well done.