LAS VEGAS — NASCAR rolled west this week, shifting from the Daytona 500 to Las Vegas Motor Speedway without Ryan Newman.
Newman’s streak of 649 consecutive races dating to 2002 will end Sunday when he misses the second race of the 2020 season as he recovers from a spectacular last-lap crash at Daytona. The rest of the field will be back on the track after the most frightening accident in NASCAR in nearly two decades — one that made many of them think long and hard.
That includes Ryan Blaney, the driver who tried to shove Newman to the Daytona win Monday night and instead hooked Newman’s car into the spin that ultimately turned into an airborne, fiery spectacle with Newman’s car upside down and Newman trapped inside.
Blaney was clearly distraught after the race as he paced outside his car, even resting his head in his arms on the roof. He broke his silence as he headed to Las Vegas.
“Have been replaying the events in my head over and over about what I could’ve done differently ever since,” Blaney wrote in a long social media post. “I’m very lucky to have a great family, friends, team and incredible fans that have helped me out this week. I can’t wait to have Rocketman Ryan Newman back at the track racing as hard as ever.”
Ross Chastain will drive the No. 6 Ford in place of Newman. Roush Fenway Racing has not revealed any details about Newman’s potential injuries, but the 42-year-old Indiana native walked out of the hospital holding hands with his two young daughters less than 48 hours after an accident that appeared fatal.
NASCAR’s last fatal crash in the Cup Series was Dale Earnhardt on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, and a massive safety push after that incident has limited serious injuries in the 19 years since. Kyle Busch broke both his legs in a 2015 crash at Daytona, Denny Hamlin broke a vertebra in his lower back in a 2013 crash in California and Aric Almirola broke his back in a 2017 crash.
But they all got out of their cars.
As did Austin Dillon, when he was pulled out of the window of his overturned car after tearing out a chunk of fencing at Daytona. Kyle Larson got out of his car after it went airborne.
And so did Newman, who for his entire 19-year Cup career has railed against the dangers of superspeedway racing and rightfully so — the winner of the 2008 Daytona 500 has flipped in superspeedway races several times. He leaned on NASCAR to add a support bar to the cockpit today referred to as “The Newman bar.”