Denny Hamlin is the winner of the 62nd-annual Daytona 500. And in the process he became the first driver to win The Great American Race in back-to-back seasons since Sterling Marlin accomplished the feat 25 years ago, but the real story was what took place behind him as he roared toward the finish line.
As Hamlin edged out Ryan Blaney in a photo finish, Ryan Newman, who had the lead on the final lap, went flipping wildly through the field. Newman’s No. 6 Ford Mustang came to a rest and burst into flames. Gasoline was seen spewing from the car.
As Newman sat waiting extraction from his mangled machine, Hamlin was seen fist pumping in his car and then proceeded to perform burnouts in the grass unaware of the situation of his competitor.
Upon reaching victory lane, Hamlin was made aware of the serious situation and he said prayers are with Newman.
“I think we take for granted sometimes how safe these cars are,” a somber Hamlin said. “We’re praying for Ryan (Newman). Worked really well with Ryan through this whole race. Obviously, he got turned right there.”
Newman was extracted from his No. 6 car and was taken directly to Halifax Medical Center.
Newman is reportedly in serious condition. According to doctors, his injuries are not life threatening.
Blaney was the driver who made contact with Newman, which sent him into the wall and upside down. Blaney seemed shook after climbing from his car.
“We pushed Newman there to the lead and then we got a push from the 11,” Blaney explained. “I kind of went low and he blocked that and so I was committed to pushing him to the win and have a Ford win it. I don’t know. We just got the bumpers hooked up wrong and I turned him. I hope he is alright. It looked pretty bad. I was trying to push him to the win. I don’t like saying that things just happen because I feel really bad about it. It was a close one. I just hope Ryan is alright.”
Following Hamlin and Blaney across the line were Chris Buescher, David Ragan and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five finishers.
Clint Bowyer was sixth after crashing late in the event, while Brendan Gaughan finished seventh in his final Daytona 500.
Corey LaJoie had a shot at the win late, but ultimately settled for an eighth-place finish. It was LaJoie who had nowhere to go and made contact with the top of Newman’s car as he flipped on the final lap.
Newman finished ninth.
Kyle Larson was 10th.
Post-Race Stat Pack:
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.