AP

Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman contrast risk and reward at Daytona 500

Feb 18, 2020, 5:34 AM
Nascar crash...
Ryan Newman, top center, goes airborne as he is hit by Corey LaJoie (32) on the final lap of the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, in Daytona Beach, Fla. Sunday's race was postponed because of rain. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)
(AP Photo/Terry Renna)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — In a single thrilling lap around the most storied track in NASCAR, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman displayed the risks and rewards of the dangerous sport they both love.

Hamlin won his second consecutive Daytona 500 and third in five years on Monday night as he surged past Newman on the final lap of a second overtime shootout. The win came as Newman’s car was turned hard into the wall, then flipped onto its roof, where he was helpless as he was hit in the driver’s side by another car.

His car continued to skid upside down along the speedway and it crossed the finish line in flames as safety crews hurried to snuff out the fire and pry Newman loose. It took several minutes for his car to be rolled back onto its wheels, and medical personnel used solid black barriers to block the view as the 2008 Daytona 500 winner was placed in a waiting ambulance and taken to a hospital.

All the while, a sense of dread settled over Daytona and its showcase race, already pushed back a day by rain that dampened a raucous visit by President Donald Trump. There has not been a fatality in NASCAR’s elite Cup Series since 2001, but Newman’s crash had everyone worried.

The damage to his Mustang was extensive — it appeared the entire roll cage designed to protect his head had caved — and officials would not allow his team near the accident site. Two agonizing hours after the crash, NASCAR read a statement from Roush Fenway Racing that said Newman was in “serious condition, but doctors have indicated his injuries are not life-threatening.”

Hamlin, meanwhile, was trying to find the delicate balance of celebrating a milestone victory while showing proper respect to an injured driver. Initially unaware of Newman’s situation, Hamlin did victory burnouts and celebrated with his team.

Not until Fox Sports said it would not interview him did Hamlin learn the severity of the situation. Team owner Joe Gibbs was apologetic for the No. 11 team’s initial reaction.

“I was focusing on our car, and everybody started celebrating around us,” Gibbs said. “So I say to everybody out there, some people may have saw us and said, ‘Well, these guys are celebrating when there’s a serious issue going on.’ I apologize to everybody, but we really didn’t know.”

The crash was a stark reminder of both the dangers of auto racing and the improvements NASCAR has made since 2001, when Dale Earnhardt was killed on the final lap of the Daytona 500. Earnhardt was the last Cup driver killed in a race and NASCAR has made massive safety improvements in the nearly 20 years since.

“I think we take for granted sometimes how safe the cars are,” Hamlin said. “But number one, we are praying for Ryan.”

During the long wait for an update, Trump took to Twitter to express his concern. A day earlier, he attended the race as the grand marshal, gave the command for drivers to start their engines and made a ceremonial pace lap around Daytona International Speedway before rain washed out the race.

“Praying for Ryan Newman, a great and brave @NASCAR driver! #PrayingForRyan,” Trump tweeted. Newman was one of several NASCAR drivers who attended a 2016 rally for then-candidate Trump in Georgia.

Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports, acknowledged the delay for information on Ryan Newman.

“To hear some positive news tonight is a relief,” Rushbrook said. “He is so respected for being a great competitor by everyone in the sport.”

Newman had taken the lead on the final lap when Ryan Blaney’s bumper caught the back of his Ford and sent Newman hard right into the wall. His car flipped, rolled, was hit on the driver’s side by another car, and finally skidded across the finish line in flames.

Drivers were stricken with concern, including Hamlin, the first driver since Sterling Marlin in 1995 to win consecutive Daytona 500’s.

“It’s a weird balance of excitement and happiness for yourself, but someone’s health and their family is bigger than any win in any sport,” he said. “We are just hoping for the best.”

Runner-up Blaney said he got a push from Hamlin that locked him in behind Newman in a move of brand alliance for Ford.

“We pushed Newman there to the lead and then we got a push from the 11 … I was committed to just pushing him to the win and having a Ford win it and got the bumpers hooked up wrong,” he said.

Hamlin had eight Ford drivers lined up behind him as the leader on the second overtime shootout without a single fellow Toyota driver in the vicinity to help him. It allowed Newman to get past him for the lead, but the bumping in the pack led to Newman’s hard turn into the wall.

Hamlin’s win last year was a 1-2-3 sweep for Joe Gibbs Racing and kicked off a yearlong company celebration in which Gibbs drivers won a record 19 races and the Cup championship. Now his third Daytona 500 win puts him alongside six Hall of Fame drivers as winners of three or more Daytona 500s. He tied Dale Jarrett — who gave JGR its first Daytona 500 win in 1993 — Jeff Gordon and Bobby Allison. Hamlin trails Cale Yarborough’s four wins and the record seven by Richard Petty.

This victory came after just the second rain postponement in 62 years, a pair of red flag stoppages and two overtimes. The 0.014 margin of victory was the second closest in race history, trailing only Hamlin’s win over Martin Truex Jr. in 2016 (0.01 seconds)

The win in “The Great American Race” is the third for Toyota, all won by Hamlin. Gibbs has four Daytona 500 victories as an owner.

___

More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/apf-AutoRacing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Today’s Top Stories

AP

This June 5, 2013, image provided by the California Department of Water Resources shows a drip irri...
JESSICA DAMIANO Associated Press

Tips for growing a healthy garden during drought

Watering needs for plants could increase during periods of extreme heat, when the soil dries out more quickly.
1 day ago
Two members of the FBI move items from the scene at the Highland Park shooting...
MICHAEL TARM, KATHLEEN FOODY and STEPHEN GROVES Associated Press

Police: Gunman fired more than 70 rounds at July 4 parade, 7 dead

Police gave no motive for the attack in Highland Park, an affluent community of about 30,000 on Chicago's north shore.
1 day ago
Frankfurter-munching phenom Joey “Jaws” Chestnut has gobbled his way to a 15th win at the Natha...
By JENNIFER PELTZ and JULIA NIKHINSON Associated Press

Joey Chestnut is chomp champ again in July 4 hot dog contest

NEW YORK (AP) — Frankfurter-munching phenom Joey “Jaws” Chestnut put a protester in a chokehold while gobbling his way to a 15th win Monday at the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest, powering down 63 hot dogs and buns at the annual exhibition of excess. In a decisive chowdown comeback, women’s record-holder […]
2 days ago
FILE - Fireworks explode over Baltimore's Inner Harbor during the Ports America Chesapeake 4th of J...
BOBBY CAINA CALVAN ASSOCIATED PRESS

A turbulent US this July 4, but many see cause to celebrate

July 4 has arrived as many citizens struggle to find a reason to celebrate. Yet many also see cause for celebration, including President Joe Biden.
2 days ago
A Navy soldier stands guard as authorities wait for the arrival of people who were evacuated from t...
Associated Press

Tropical Storm Colin brings rain to Carolinas, weakens

Tropical Storm Colin formed along the coast on Saturday. Conditions are expected to improve by Monday's Fourth of July celebrations.
3 days ago
A female bison and calf are seen near the Yellowstone River in Wyoming's Hayden Valley, on Wednesda...
Mark Jones

2nd visitor in 3 days gored by Yellowstone National Park bison

In less than a week, two visitors to Yellowstone National Park have been gored by bison. Park officials say to stay at least 25 yards away from a bison.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman contrast risk and reward at Daytona 500