Fans Injured In Car Wreck.
An ugly crash at a car race in Daytona resulted in several pieces of a car landing over the fencing and into the stands.
It was last reported that at least 17 people were injured with two injures deemed as “major”.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A horrific multicar crash moments before the end of the Nationwide Series race Saturday at Daytona International Speedway caused Kyle Larson’s car to become airborne into the frontstretch catch fencing, shearing off the front half of the car and leaving large pieces of the vehicle inside the fencing.
Sergeant John Creamer of the Daytona Beach Police said 17 fans were injured with two suffering “major injuries.” Eleven were sent to Halifax Medical Center, with one adult in surgery with head trauma and listed in critical condition. The other major injury is to a 14-year-old. Six fans were transported to Florida Memorial Hospital with minor injuries, and are expected to be treated and released.
At least one tire from Larson’s car flew into the seating area at Daytona. Police officers and NASCAR safety officials quickly ran to the location where part of the car went through the fencing, destroying one section of the catch fence.
Initial photos showed several people being placed on stretchers in the grandstands. One woman’s leg was bleeding as she was carried away.
“Right now, the function is to determine what damage was done,” NASCAR president Mike Helton said. “They are taking some folks to Halifax Medical Center. Our prayers and thoughts are with everyone they are working on.”
Larson climbed out of what was left of his car. He was not hurt.
“I hope all the fans are OK,” Larson said. “I took a couple of big hits and saw my engine was gone.”
The engine from Larson’s car was sitting on the front walkway of the grandstand, along with one of the wheels.
“I was getting pushed from behind,” Larson said. “Before I could react, it was too late. Flames came in the cockpit, but I was able to get out of the car quick.”
Twelve cars were involved in the crash as the leaders headed for the finish line. Tony Stewart won the race, and Sam Hornish Jr. finished second.
Stewart, who won for the 19th time at Daytona and seventh time in the last nine season-opening Nationwide races, was in no mood to celebrate, skipping the traditional post-race victory celebration.
“The important thing is what going on on the frontstretch right now,” said Stewart, the three-time NASCAR champion. “We’ve always known, and since racing started, this is a dangerous sport. But it’s hard. We assume that risk, but it’s hard when the fans get caught up in it.
“So as much as we want to celebrate right now and as much as this is a big deal to us, I’m more worried about the drivers and the fans that are in the stands right now because that was … I could see it all in my mirror, and it didn’t look good from where I was at.”
Saturday’s horrific Nationwide Series crash at Daytona wasn’t the first in which fans were injured. Here’s a look at some other events in which spectators were hurt due to an on-track incident:
• April 2009, Talladega: Seven fans were injured when Carl Edwards’ car slammed into the catchfence at the end of a Sprint Cup race.
• May 1999, Charlotte: Three fans were killed and eight others were injured when a three-car crash took place in Turn 4 in a IndyCar Series race. It would be the final race at Charlotte for the series.
• July 1998, Michigan: Three people were killed and six others were injured when Adrian Fernandez wrecked in Turn 4 during CART’s U.S. 500.
• May 1987, Indianapolis: A fan, Lyle Kurtenbach, was killed while attending the Indy 500 when he was struck with a loose tire from the car of Tony Bettenhausen (Roberto Guerrero actually hit the tire, which sent it into the grandstands).
Driver Michael Annett was transported to a local hospital after his car slammed head on into the SAFER barrier. Annett was treated for bruising on his chest and underwent a CT Scan. He will be kept overnight for observation.
No drivers were hospitalized after the last-lap crash.
Regan Smith was leading and had Brad Keselowski right on his back bumper. But Smith’s car suddenly spun to the right and shot up the track, triggering the huge crash.
“I tried to throw a block,” Smith said. “I knew Brad was going to make a move. It’s Daytona. You have to go for it. We were coming to the checkered flag. You want to win. I don’t know how you can play it any differently, other than conceding to second place, and I wasn’t going to do that.”
The race had restarted with two laps to go after a 13-car accident caused it to be red-flagged.
“We’ve always known this is a dangerous sport, but it’s hard when the fans get caught up in it,” Stewart said in Victory Lane. “As much as we want to celebrate, I’m more concerned about the fans and the drivers right now. We want to put on a good show, but not at the risk to fans. There’s no easy solution on these types of track.” Keselowski took a deep breath as he left the infield care center.
“After watching the replay, my reaction is the same as everyone else and that’s hoping everyone in the grandstands is OK,” Keselowski said. “I felt I was in position to win it and made what I thought was the winning move. Regan moved to block it, and that’s his right.”
Helton said an incident like this shows safety is ever-evolving.
“The biggest thing we know is we don’t know everything we need to know,” Helton said. “We have things happen we’ve never seen before. We’re always made aware of the fact that we don’t know everything.”
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