NASCAR addresses Ryan Newman crash response

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 22: Steve O'Donnell (center), NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer, speaks at a press conference with John Bobo (left), NASCAR Vice President of Racing Operations, and Dr. John Palatak (right), NASCAR Senior Director of Safety Engineering, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on February 22, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

NASCAR’s top competition official flanked by two NASCAR executives that deal with safety and operations addressed the media Saturday morning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway about the timeline in response to Ryan Newman’s accident at the end of Monday’s rain-delayed Daytona 500.

Newman lost control of his Ford as the leaders charged towards the finish line.  The car was sent airborne and hit on the driver’s side door by the car of Corey Lajoie.  Newman’s Ford slid down the track on-fire stopping near the exit of pit road. It took time to extricate Newman from the car and nearly three hours before news came that his injuries were not life threatening.  He was hospitalized but walked out of the Halifax Medical Center flanked by his two young daughters Wednesday.

“I want to start off by saying how thankful we all are to see Ryan Newman walk out of the hospital in Daytona Beach,” Steve O’Donnell NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer said.

He cautioned that due to HIPAA laws there would be no update on Newman’s condition. He then spoke of the response timeline.

“The tool truck arrived at the vehicle 19 seconds after it came to rest,” he said.  “The fireman that you saw with the extinguisher was in that vehicle.  One of the three trauma doctors assigned to the safety team for the race arrived at the car at the 33‑second mark, and a paramedic entered the vehicle at the 35‑second mark.

“For the next three and a half minutes, two doctors and paramedics attended to Ryan.  At the 4:05 mark the decision was then made to roll the car over while continuing to help aid the driver.

“At the 6:56 mark, the car was upright.  The extrication team then began cutting the car and a doctor continued to provide treatment.

“The roof was removed at the 11:10 mark, and the extrication was completed at 15:40, and the driver was then moved to the ambulance for transport. During this entire time, doctors and paramedics were attending to Ryan except at the moment of the car rollover.”

John Bobo, NASCAR Vice President of Racing Operations, said Newman would need clearance by doctors before he would be able to return to competition. Xfinity Series regular Ross Chastain is filling in for Newman in the No. 6 Ford this weekend at Las Vegas.

Dr. John Patalak, NASCAR Senior Director of Safety Engineering, also provided a brief overview of the crash investigation process, which he said began at the racetrack with detailed pictures of the exterior and interior. Both the No. 6 and No. 32 cars were taken to the R&D Center for further review.

Patalak said competition officials would review the safety systems, specifically how they performed separately and collectively, then sync all the data sources — ECU, data recorders and telemetry — with all available video for a comprehensive picture of the crash.

Patalak said NASCAR officials would work with Roush Fenway and outside experts “as we continue to investigate and look forward to being able to provide more information sometime soon.” O’Donnell added that Newman’s feedback, his engineering expertise and his advocacy for safety would be key in determining next steps.

O’Donnell said he did not foresee changes to NASCAR’s overtime rules or caution-flag procedures but did say the superspeedway package used at Daytona and sister track Talladega Superspeedway would be evaluated. The next race with superspeedway rules is scheduled April 26 at Talladega.

“I think it’s fair to say it’s still early in terms of as we look through this, but we’re going to look at everything and anything in terms of the speeds,” said O’Donnell, referring to practice speeds that crept toward 205 mph at Daytona. “The liftoff, you’ve heard me say many times before, we never want a car to get airborne so we’ll look at how that occurred around the speeds. We’ll look at the racing procedures we have in place as well.

“All of those will be on the table as we look to head into Talladega, and if we need to make adjustments around the aero balance and speeds as it relates to safety, we’ll do that.”