NASCAR conducted a press conference Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to update fans about the ongoing investigation in the aftermath of the last-lap crash in the 2020 Daytona 500, which led to injury by Ryan Newman. It appears that NASCAR is willing to look at everything and nothing is off the table when it comes to ensuring what happens to Newman doesn’t happen again.
In the conference, NASCAR outlined the procedures and processes in place when it comes to safety, a timeline of the events as they happened as well as an update on the investigation.
They were unable to give any updates on Newman’s medical condition due to HIPAA laws, but did say that Newman would have to be cleared to race again by his medical team before returning to competition.
“First, I want to start off by saying how thankful we all are to see Ryan Newman walk out of the hospital in Daytona Beach. We continue to work with not only Ryan, but his family and his race team as he continues his recovery. We will certainly be with him every step of the way,” NASCAR’s Chief Racing Officer, Steve O’Donnell started off the talk.
According to O’Donnell, the tool truck arrived at Newman’s car 19 seconds after it skidded to a halt. One of the three trauma doctors assigned to the safety team for the event, arrived at the car at the 33 second mark and a paramedic entered Newman’s vehicle at the 35-second mark.
Over the next three and a half minutes two doctors and two paramedics tended to Newman and at the 4:05 mark, the decision was made to flip the car over.
Two minutes and 51 seconds later, the car was flipped. The team then began to cut open the car, while a doctor continued to provide treatment for Newman.
The extrication was completed at the 15 minute and 40 second mark, Newman was immediately moved to the ambulance and transported to Halifax Medical Center.
According to O’Donnell, the first responders performed their jobs as they were trained. The training systems and safety systems all worked as designed, but O’Donnell says that NASCAR is never satisfied and will continue to try to make changes and improvements to the process.
NASCAR begins their investigation into every crash as soon as the car returns to the garage area after the incident. NASCAR takes pictures of the car from the interior and exterior. They also removed the IDR (incident data reporter) and high speed camera (only on Cup Series cars). The officials will then begin populating an incident report, which is housed in a database.
Due to the severe nature of the crash in the Daytona 500, the No. 6 and No. 32 cars were sent to the NASCAR Research and Development facility in Concord, North Carolina. The deep investigation began on Tuesday.
NASCAR poured through every component on the cars as well as every piece of safety equipment that were worn by the drivers.
O’Donnell outlined that NASCAR is definitely looking at any options that will take the possibility of an accident like Newman’s a thing of the past.
“I think it’s fair to say it’s still early in terms of as we look through this, but we’re going to look at everything and anything in terms of speeds, the lift off,” said O’Donnell. “You’ve heard me say many times before, we never want a car to get air born, so we’ll look at how that occurred around the speeds. We’ll look at the racing procedures we have in place as well. All of those will be on the table as we look to head into Talladega.
“If we need to make adjustments around the aero-balance and speed as it relates to safety, we’ll do that.”
Obviously, we are less than a week removed from the crash, but NASCAR understands how lucky they are that one of the superstars of the sport is still with us after last Monday evening. We will keep an eye on developments in safety following the investigation into Newman’s crash.
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.