Horrific Crash on Final Lap of Nationwide Series Race at Daytona [VIDEO]
Tony Stewart slid to the checkered flag to win the Nationwide Series “Drive 4 COPD 300″ race at Daytona Speedway after a terrible last lap crash sent flaming debris into the grandstands injuring fans.
Regan Smith was leading the pack to the finish line on the last lap of a three lap dash to the end, when he was turned into the wall. That set off a chaotic scene of cars crashing everywhere, and sent rookie Kyle Larson’s car airborne into the fence meant to protect the fans in the grandstands from the track.
The impact with the fence took the whole front-end off of Larson’s car and left a huge gash in the fence, and his burning engine and a tire in the fan area. Volusia County Florida officials report that 11 race fans were injured, and 6 fans were being treated at Halifax Medical Center in Port Orange. (Watch for updates below as story develops.)
This is Tony Stewart’s 19th win at Daytona Speedway. Stewart did not do the traditional victory celebration, and instead told media on hand…
The important thing is what is going on on the frontstretch right now. We’ve always known, and since racing started, it’s a dangerous sport. We assume that risk, but it’s hard when the fans get caught up in it.”
Stewart went on to say…
As much as we want to celebrate now, as much as this is a big deal, I am more worried about the drivers and the fans that are in the stands right now.”
Before that final 3-lap chase for the checkers was a huge crash that involved 13 cars. That incident sent 20-year-old Michael Annett to a local hospital for evaluation.
***UPDATE 6:30 P.M. (CST)***
Daytona Speedway president Joie Chitwood said during a Saturday evening press conference that Sunday’s Daytona 500 race will go on as scheduled despite Saturday’s crash that injured 28 spectators, including two critically. The fencing at the track is being repaired.
Fourteen of the injured were taken to area hospitals. Of the two patients listed in critical condition, one has a life-threatening head injury and the other is a child. Both are stable, Byron Cogdell, a spokesman at Halifax Health, said.