Ryan Newman miraculously walked out of the Halifax Medical Center on Wednesday afternoon following a frightening crash at the end of Monday’s rain delayed Daytona 500. Now, a case can be made that if not for a couple of crashes that Newman had endured years ago in the NASCAR Cup Series, he may not be alive today.
11 years ago, Newman, 42, was involved in another crazy crash at the Talladega Superspeedway, a track similar in nature to Daytona.
Four years later, he was collected in another incident, this time having Kurt Busch’s car literally land on his.
Newman, has always been outspoken against cars getting airborne in NASCAR. He’s right too. But, he’s not just outspoken, he has solutions on how to make things better.
The Purdue graduate with a degree in engineering, had a way to at least if these cars keep getting airborne, to make them safer.
See, following that 2013 crash, Newman feared another car landing on him or another driver in the wrong spot. It was prophetic almost. Little did he know then, that seven years later, he would need the support inside of his race car that he clamored for.
Back then, NASCAR listened to Newman and added a second bar across the front of the roll cage that would become known as the “Newman bar.” That was an extra added support beam inside of the race car to help against intrusion from another car or object.
“My issue has and always has been, because I seem to be the reciprocate of whatever airborne disease that we have in NASCAR, is that either somebody lands on me or I land on somebody,” he said following those scary crashes “We’ve proven it’s not safe for the fans. It’s frustrating, and I think I voiced my frustration very fairly.”
Then, following a crash at Talladega in 2013, he spoke out again.
“I am doing this interview to let everybody know I’m all right,” Newman told reporters on the TV broadcast on ESPN at the time. “They can build safer race cars, they can build safer walls. But they can’t get their heads out of their asses far enough to keep them on the race track, and that’s pretty disappointing.
“I wanted to make sure I get that point across. Y’all can figure out who ‘they’ is.
On Monday night, Newman made a maneuver to block Ryan Blaney’s run on the final lap of the Daytona 500. Newman, was leading coming to the checkered flag but Blaney had a run. Newman, by human nature, moved low to block Blaney. Little did he know, Blaney was wanting to push Newman, a fellow Ford driver like himself, to the win.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of how unstable these cars are and how aero dependent that they are in the draft too, Newman’s No. 6 Ford spun off the front bumper of Blaney’s car and careened into the outside SAFER barrier. Newman’s car then got airborne and came down facing the wrong angle that it needed to be – drivers side facing oncoming cars.
Corey LaJoie had no where to go and slammed into Newman’s car at the worst of angles. We all thought the worst but hoped for the best, but how can a person survive being hit by a car 3,500+ pound race car at speeds in excess of 190 mph in the drivers side door/roof area.
Well, 42 hours after that contact, not only was Newman up moving around, he was walking out of the hospital on his own, with each of his two daughters on his side, just a stones throw away from the spot that he could have been tragically killed.
The reason that he’s doing that – the “Newman Bar.”
LaJoie, said that it’s ironic that the guy to spearheaded the extra bar inside of the car saved both of their lives in the same wicked crash.
“I kind of thanked him for flipping at Talladega over a couple of years ago because if it wasn’t for that visor bar, that second roof bar that they put in after that crash that Ryan had, I told him, I said, we would have been able to split the ambulance fare because I would have been right there next to him,” LaJoie said. “There was no telling how bad it could have been.
“I think the previous crashes and the advancements that the R&D Center and the guys at NASCAR have made to make the car safer through that wreck is what really kept him and I both safe.”
“It truly is a miracle the condition that Ryan Newman is in today vs. what we all assumed on Monday night. It goes to show how nasty of a wreck and how good of a job that NASCAR has done to make these cars safer and just the power of prayer, really.”
LaJoie, made note too that the “Newman bar” likely saved both from being far more serious than what they are right now. Newman, who was miraculously released from the hospital on Wednesday, spearheaded a safety initiative that likely saved his life.
LaJoie noted that he doesn’t think any changes need to be made for the four annual stops at Daytona and Talladega each year. That’s part of racing and the cars now are proven to be safe to withstand the contact that they just had and are constantly evolving still too.
“I’m comfortable,” LaJoie continued. “It’s what you sign up for. There’s an element of danger. Like I was explaining to someone the other day, you’re trying to make a 3,600-pound piece of metal go 200 miles an hour, sometimes you’re going to have bad crashes.
“I think it’s a testament to what NASCAR is learning and trying to keep these cars safe because that was the worst, the worst, angle of a crash, the worst area of a car to get hit on Monday night the way Ryan was and for him to be literally to be walking out 36 hours later, why would we change what many would consider the best form of racing that we have in the superspeedways?
“My opinion, we don’t change a thing. We just keep learning from these wild crashes, especially with this new Next Gen car coming in, the cars are even 30-40% safer than this. I’m excited to get into that car and continue to put on a great show for the fans.”