LAS VEGAS, NV — Ryan Newman’s last lap crash in Monday’s rain delayed Daytona 500 has been the primary topic of conversation this weekend at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the site of the second race of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season. I mean, how would it not?
In the biggest race of NASCAR’s season, Newman’s crash was the most frightening we’d seen in years. For the first time in 19 years, we thought we may have lost a NASCAR driver in a sanctioned race.
From May 2000 through February 18, 2001, we lost four drivers in four separate crashes. But, that dark day in Daytona, the one we lost Dale Earnhardt, it was the last time that we’d lose a driver in this sport. The sport got serious about making these cars safer and safer.
Soft walls (SAFER Barriers) went up around all tracks. HANS devices were mandatory. Any idea that could allow the cars to evolve as the year went on, NASCAR listened. In fact, if not for an idea by Newman earlier last decade, the Indiana native may not have walked out of the Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach just 42 hours after that scary crash.
Newman, was a second away from winning his second Daytona 500 crown. He was in the lead existing Turn 4 of the 2.5-mile tri-oval and staring down the checkered flag. So, he moved low to block Ryan Blaney’s run in hopes it would propel him to another victory in NASCAR’s Super Bowl. Instead, his No. 6 Ford would get turned and head into a hard contact with the outside SAFER Barrier. That soft wall is what at first hit saved his life. Then, he would flip upside down which the HANS device again, saved his life. After that, he was hit by a speeding Corey LaJoie car that was traveling at speeds in excess of 190 mph in the worst possible spot that a car could be hit in.
Thank the “Newman Bar” for allowing Neman to be alive today.
On Saturday, NASCAR gave us a timeline of the safety protocol that went into Newman’s crash. On Sunday, Roush Fenway Racing gave us a glimpse of Newman’s injuries.
While they can’t too many details due to concerns with medical privacy laws, RFR’s Steve Newmark did divulge that Newman escaped any broken bones or internal injuries. What he did have is a head injury.
“Ultimately, Ryan (Newman) wants to be the one to deliver the updates on his condition to the media himself when he has the opportunity,” Newmark said.
In terms of coming back, Newmark says that’s exactly what Newman wants to do. He says that the minute that Ryan is given the green light to be at the track, even if it’s not to race, he will be there.
Also, Newman wants to return to the cockpit and race again anyways. His goals haven’t changed – he wants to win the 2020 championship in November at the ISM Raceway. He hopes that he can figure out how he can get a waiver, win a race in the regular season and become playoff eligible.
First things first though, is getting healthy. Newman, will be back but RFR has no timetable on when that will be. They and Newman hope that it’s as soon as possible.
In the meantime, RFR will turn to Ross Chastain as the fill in driver as RFR singled out Chip Ganassi and Chevrolet exec Jim Campbell for allowing Chastain to run for Newman in the interim.
Chastain, is under contract with Chip Ganassi Racing and is a star in the making. Chevy most certainly wants to keep Chastain too. But, Ganassi and Campbell not only signed off on Chastain driving for RFR, they asked if there was anything that they could do to help.
While Chastain is driving, Newman is home helping. He can’t go away, even if he’s battling that head injury.
“Ryan has already been involved,” Newmark said. “He’s been on the phone with Scott Graves (crew chief) and Ross (Chastain). He is still very active and involved in the direction of the team.”
Jack Roush has made it clear that the ride will always been Newman’s so long that he still wants to return and that they’ll wait for him as long as it takes.