Two days ago, Ryan Newman was less than a mile away from becoming a two-time Daytona 500 champion. On the last lap of Monday’s rain delayed Great American Race, Newman, who was running second at the time of the white flag, had drafting help from behind by fellow Ford driver Ryan Blaney.
Blaney, pushed Newman to the lead on the backstretch and dropped off his rear bumper after. Denny Hamlin, who was leading at the time, fell behind Blaney and then consequently, pushed Blaney around Turns 3 and 4 in the exact same tandem maneuver that Hamlin used with Newman earlier in the race and the way Blaney pushed Newman by Hamlin just moments earlier.
Newman, used the high line exiting Turn 4 and when saw of Blaney’s move, maneuvered his No. 6 Ford to block the low line that Blaney was taking. Unfortunately, Blaney was unable to slow down as his main goal was to push Newman to the win.
That didn’t work.
Newman’s car was turned and he made hard contact with the outside SAFER barrier as a result. Then, he was hit near the driver side window by Corey LaJoie, as LaJoie’s No. 32 Ford was traveling at speeds near 200 mph and had no where to go.
That lifted Newman’s Roush Fenway Racing Ford airborne once again and slamming back down on the pavement very hard and even catching fire briefly before coming to a rest on the inside of the track just past pit exit.
From a potential win to severely injured in a span of seconds. Now, 42 hours later, Newman is walking out of the hospital on his own.
It was a miraculous 42 hours.
It took medical workers several minutes to get Newman out of his badly mangled race car before the track reporting that they were going to bypass the infield care center and head directly to the Halifax Medical Center down the road.
That was the only report that we got at the time. The rumors that were floating were grim but unsubstantiated. So, everyone left at the Daytona International Speedway were left silent and numb fearing for the news no one wanted.
Shortly after 10 p.m. locally, NASCAR made an announcement.
At 10:06 p.m. ET, Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, read a statement from Roush Yates Racing giving Newman’s condition. It read that Newman was being treated at Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach for serious, non life threatening injuries.
“Ryan Newman is being treated at Halifax Medical Center,” O’Donnell said on Monday night at the Daytona International Speedway. “He’s in serious condition but doctors have indicated his injuries are non-life threatening. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers and ask that you respect the privacy of Ryan and his family during this time. We appreciate your patience and cooperation and will provide more information as it becomes available.”
Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports, stated: “We’re grateful for the news about Ryan. We had been waiting for information just like everyone else, so to hear some positive news tonight is a relief. Ryan has been an important part of the Roush Fenway and Ford NASCAR program this past year, and he is so respected for being a great competitor by everyone in the sport. The entire Ford family is sending positive thoughts for his recovery, but our first thoughts remain with his family and his team.”
On Tuesday morning, Roush Fenway Racing gave a brief statement that Newman remained in the hospital but gave no word on his condition. That made everyone fear even more. Did he get worse? Did he remain the same? Did he get better? Nothing was ever said.
Later on in the day, RFR put out another statement that Newman was awake and alert and talking with the medical staff and family. Still, no news on his condition and the brunt of his injuries.
Then, the news we’ve all been praying for occurred on Wednesday morning, RFR put out another statement that Newman not only is doing well, but he’s improving dramatically. “He’s showing great improvement” they say.
“The veteran driver is fully alert and walking around Halifax Medical Center,” RFR’s release stated. “True to his jovial nature, he has also been joking around with staff, friends and family while spending time playing with his two daughters.”
Crisis seem averted. While we still don’t know the nature of his “serious” injuries, RFR tweeted out a picture of Newman with his two daughters standing up and smiling.
It sent the whole racing world in a sense of relief. But that wasn’t the only great news on the day. A few hours later, RFR tweeted a picture that Newman was released from the hospital.