We’re at the finish line of another week again and today’s #CurrentEventFriday looks at the wild events that played out of the finish line of the Great American Race—the Daytona 500 on Monday. More specifically, the attention paid to the fourth-place competitor.
The finish of the race saw the second-closest result in the race and was won by Denny Hamlin. After this win, Hamlin won his third Daytona 500 race and the second in consecutive years. Before crossing the finish line, Hamlin was running in third place but was able to gain the lead in the last few hundred feet as Ryan Newman lost the lead while being spun out by Ryan Blaney.
What makes this noteworthy is that Newman lost the lead while blocking Blaney from performing a bump-and-run maneuver that sent Newman into the outside wall and turned Newman’s car upside down which was then struck by Corey LaJoie’s car. After being struck by LaJoie, the car piloted by Newman began to ignite.
Hamlin’s crew and team owner began to celebrate their victory while many fans booed the celebration given the damage to Newman’s car and Newman himself. Newman was rescued from the car and was transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital.
NASCAR officials released a press statement about Newman’s condition later that night. Many took to social media to offer thoughts and prayers for the veteran driver. Of course, many were concerned about his condition eliciting a parallel to the announcement following 2001’s Daytona 500 that ended with Dale Earnhardt’s death.
Thankfully, for Ryan Newman there are several safety measures and equipment in place after Earnhardt’s death. The modern car includes a Head and Neck Safety (HANS) device that protects the driver’s head and neck, a roll cage with several reinforcements including an Earnhardt Bar and a Newman bar that were added after previous crashes that injured the driver the bars are named for.
As these safety measures have become standard and protect the driver’s more each year it’s no surprise that Wednesday afternoon that Newman was released from the hospital, alert and walking. Some on social media created memes of Dale Earnhardt acting as a guardian angel for Ryan Newman. Surprisingly, many who passively follow NASCAR demonstrated concern for Newman while he was hospitalized and celebrated his release.
For LaJoie and Hamlin’s part they were both concerned for Newman after the race and offered prayers and support for his recovery. An image of LaJoie praying for Newman near his own still smoldering car was shared on social media. Roush-Fenway the company that Newman drives for announced that Ross Chastain will drive the car until Newman is medically cleared to return to the car.
An interesting wrinkle in this story involves Ryan Newman and his wife Krissie. Just before the Daytona 500, the couple announced that after 16 years of marriage they were separating. In statements from both Ryan and Krissie, they announced they would raise their two young children as co-parents despite their own relationship.
After the accident and subsequent hospitalization, Krissie posted on Twitter & Instagram a photo of Ryan awake and posing with the girls and later a video of Ryan walking out of the hospital with their children. Some fans believe that after this brush with mortality, the Newmans may reconsider their separation. Neither Ryan or Krissie Newman has offered an update on their marital status since the accident, so they may still proceed towards separation amicably or they might reconcile. Optimists no doubt are pulling for the latter over the former, and why not stranger things have happened.
Did you watch Ryan Newman’s accident?