Less than a week after his horrific crash at the end of the Daytona 500, Ryan Newman has made his first comments.
In Monday’s rain-delayed Daytona 500 Newman was leading coming out of turn 4 on the final lap followed closely behind by Ryan Blaney. Blaney came down to try and get past Newman, who came down to block. The rear of Newman’s Ford clipped the front of Blaney’s and was sent airborne. It was then hit by the Ford of Corey Lajoie and sent tumbling down the frontstretch. The car slid on its roof coming to rest in a heap near the end of pit road.
Newman was extricated from the car and taken directly to Halifax Hospital. He remained there and was released Wednesday.
NASCAR provided an update on the rescue efforts on Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway; Sunday morning Steve Newmark President of Newman’s Roush Fenway Racing team met with the media. In his statement Newman confirmed that he suffered a head injury.
“I appreciate all you guys being here today,” Newmark said. “Ryan apologizes for not being able to be here, but he did prepare a statement:
“I’m sorry that I can’t be at the track in person, but I asked Steve to take a moment to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude for all the support that was shown last week to both me and my family. The outpouring of emotion from not only the NASCAR community, but across the country has been truly humbling.
“I want to personally thank everyone, including the man upstairs, for their support, encouragement and the numerous offers of assistance. We always say that the NASCAR community is one big family and never has that been more evident to me than after seeing this family rally together and provide the comfort and support that has been shown to my family and me over the past few days. The calls and visits from the NASCAR executives and my friends and competitors has been truly uplifting.
“I want to thank everyone involved in my care, especially the staff at Halifax Medical Center, where I am convinced I received the best care available. I’m confident the efforts of each of those trained professionals played a major role in where I’m sitting today. And to the entire NASCAR organization, led by Jim France, thanks for being by my side the entire time. You truly stepped up to support me unconditionally when it mattered most.
“Most importantly, I have to thank the guys back at the Roush Fenway Racing shop that built me a car not only fast enough to lead the final seconds of the Daytona 500, but strong enough to do its job under great distress, allowing me to survive such an accident. I am truly indebted to each of you and it is unlikely I will ever be able to properly express to you how much the diligent effort with which you conduct your craftmanship has affected me and my family. I hope you took pride in the photograph of me walking out of the hospital hand-in-hand with my daughters on Wednesday. Thank you. I can’t wait to get back in your race car.
“I was fortunate to avoid any internal organ damage or broken bones. I did sustain a head injury for which I’m currently being treated. The doctors have been pleased with my progression over the last few days.
“Again, I want to thank each of you, from my partners, teammates and competitors and each and every fan across the country. Thank you everyone for the unparalleled concern and unwavering support. And to the media, who has acted with such respect and class during this time.
“I have spoken with Jack Roush and he has assured me that the number six car will be waiting and ready for my return. I’m looking forward to getting behind the wheel and battling for another race win in the Roush Fenway Ford.”
“I also spoke to Ryan just before I came on here,” Newmark said. “And in talking to him he wanted to reiterate to me again that his goals for this year haven’t changed. His objective is to win the 2020 Cup championship, so hopefully that gives you a little insight into his mindset.”
Newmark then talked about what the team went through before, and after the crash.
“We went from what we thought was seconds away from winning the Daytona 500 with Ryan, locking into the playoffs, and also having our other car – the 17 Fastenal Ford finish fourth in Chris Buescher’s first race with us,” he said. “It was looking like it was gonna be a storybook race for us and a great start to the season.
“All of that changed in an instant, and we go from not caring about the race, not caring about the competition, in fact I’m not sure that we knew who had actually won the race until a few hours later because the whole later was on Ryan’s safety and well-being. When you see a teammate and a friend and part of your family in that situation.”
And after the crash:
“For the Roush Fenway organization, it was a pretty agonizing few days,” Newmark said. “Obviously, a brutal period that night as we had a lot of our team members down at the end of pit road, just feet from where the accident finished. There was obviously a lot of uncertainty at that point and I can tell you to a person on the corporate side and the competition side there wasn’t a single one at Roush Fenway that actually wanted to go home that night. In fact, if we had acquiesced to their wishes, they would have camped out at the hospital waiting until they could actually see Ryan with their own two eyes.
“Thankfully, they kind of relented and reluctantly went back because we still had a job to do, and it was a pretty Herculean task for that organization this week. What we had was a short week to get to the west coast because of the rain delay, and then we also had the uncertainty of who was gonna drive the 6 car, how do you upfit it? How do you get the right seat in that? So they flew home that night, were back in the shop at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning and then we basically worked 24-hour shifts so we could be here. I think the results speak for themselves in that we feel like we’ve got two pretty fast race cars, and it’s a tremendous testament to the effort, the work ethic and the passion that whole group showed. I’m extremely proud to be associated with that organization and that group of individuals.”
Newmark is certain that Newman will return to racing, just not when.
“He is as tough as they come and it was also refreshing to be in the hospital room listening to his family make fun of him for having no neck and for just being completely thick,” Newmark said. “And there is truth to the rumor that when he heard there were donuts down in the room where we were all congregated that he asked his dad to confiscate some and bring them back up to his room. I don’t know what happened to them, but not a surprising development.”
Newmark also said Newman has been involved with the No. 6 team remotely this weekend, communicating with them and watching practice.
“Ryan has already been involved,” Newmark said. “He’s been on the phone with (crew chief) Scott Graves and Ross. He is still very active and involved in the direction of the team.”