Ryan Newman Survives Terrifying Dayton 500 Crash


NASCAR driver Ryan Newman suffered a head injury after a terrifying crash at the Daytona 500.

Christine Wu, Staff Reporter

On Sunday, February 16th, NASCAR driver Ryan Newman was hospitalized due to a severe crash that occurred during the Daytona 500. The Daytona 500 is a 500-mile-long NASCAR Cup Series motor race held annually at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. This race is equivalent to the Super Bowl of NASCAR. However, whereas the Super Bowl closes the season in the NFL, the Daytona 500 opens the season to create the maximum drama. 

Ryan Newman, nicknamed “Rocket Man,” is a full-time competitor in the NASCAR Cup Series known for driving the No. 6 Ford Mustang for Roush Fenway Racing. The 42-year-old was leading at 190 mph on his final lap when driver Ryan Blaney clipped the back of his race car. It was sent into a wild spin and flipped upside down before driver Corey LaJoie slammed into the No. 6 Ford Mustang and sent it airborne. It skidded across the finish line on its roof in a hail of sparks and flames. Several minutes passed before Newton and his car was rolled back right side up. The 2008 Daytona 500 winner was then placed in a waiting ambulance and taken to the Halifax Medical Center. Luckily, he was released less than two days later with a non-life threatening head injury and announced his plans to return this season to compete for the championships.

Newman’s accident serves as a grim reminder of the dangers that come with the sport. In NASCAR’s 72-year history, 28 drivers have died due to accidents on the track. However, it was Dale Earnhardt’s high-profile and tragic death — which occurred during the final lap of the 43rd Daytona 500 in 2001 — that sparked the much needed change in NASCAR’s safety regulations.  After colliding with driver Ken Schrader, the seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion’s famous black No. 3 Chevrolet smashed head-first into the wall and disappeared into a cloud of charcoal smoke. Earnhardt’s autopsy revealed that he had died instantly upon impact from a basilar skull fracture, caused by his head continuing forward after his body was restrained by the series of belts and straps constraining his torso. 

Ever since then, adaptations to both race cars and the tracks themselves have reduced the risks of competing in NASCAR. Junior Logan Harrison shares, “Earnhardt’s passing was tragic, but at least it made NASCAR realize that there were changes needed in their safety regulations to further protect drivers.” It was perhaps the new adjustments that ultimately ended up saving Ryan Newman’s life.