NASCAR, despite Saturday's crash, will go racing today at Daytona International Speedway, weather permitting, More than two dozen people were injured at Daytona International Speedway Saturday afternoon in the wake of a multicar accident.
“We met with NASCAR officials at 8 a.m. and worked late into evening and are prepared to go racing today,” Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood III said Sunday morning.
The accident, which happened on the final lap of the NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300, sent wreckage past a safety fence and into the grandstand.
Chitwood reiterated that 14 people were taken from raceway by ambulance, and 14 were treated at the track. Some reports listed that there could be as many as 33 accident victims, but Chitwood noted that some fans may have transported themselves to local hospitals.
Some fans also were treated for illnesses unrelated to the crash, such as being overcome by the heat.
Chitwood said that the track’s guest services department helped all of those fans released to get re-connected with their family and friends, and in some cases, provided transportation back to Orlando.
The incident happened on the last lap, when Kyle Larson's car broke apart and Others spun out of control.
"Stuff was flying everywhere," spectator Terry Huckaby, whose brother was sent to the hospital with a leg injury, told the ESPN sports network. "Tires were flying by and smoke and everything else."
Among the injured were a 14-year-old boy in critical but stable condition, and a man who was in surgery for a head injury, according to ESPN.com.
Tony Stewart won the race at Saturday's event, which is the curtain-raiser for American stock car racing's biggest event on Sunday which will feature Danica Patrick as the first woman to start on pole position.
CAR SENT AIRBORNE
Saturday's wreck happened after driver Regan Smith, who was leading the race, attempted to block another driver as they were nearing the checkered flag and hit the other car, a report on NASCAR.com said.
"My fault," Smith, who finished 14th, told NASCAR.com. "I threw a block. I'll take the blame for it. But when you see the checkered flag at Daytona, you're going to block, and you're going to do everything you can to be the first car back to the stripe. It just didn't work out today. Just hoping everything is okay, everyone who was in the wreck and all the fans."
The crash sent driver Kyle Larson's car airborne and ripped out its engine, although he climbed out of the wreckage afterward unhurt.
"I was getting pushed from behind, it felt like," Larson told ESPN after the crash.
"By the time my spotter said, 'Lift,' or to go low, I believe, it was too late and I was in the wreck. Then I felt like it was slowing down, and it looked like I could see the ground, and had some flames in the cockpit. Luckily, I was all right and could get out of the car quick," he added.
The injured were carried away on stretchers from the chaotic scene in the stands. They were taken to Halifax Health Medical Center and Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center in Daytona Beach.
NASCAR's vice president of race operations, Steve O'Donnell, said that the fencing, which was ripped through by the flying debris, was being replaced and the incident would be reviewed.
"We're very confident that we'll be ready for tomorrow's event with the 55th running of the Daytona, but as with any of these incidents, we'll conduct a thorough review, we'll work closely with the tracks as we do for all our events, learn what we can and see what we can apply in the future," he said.
It is rare that spectators get hurt in American racing, but it has happened before. In 2009, Carl Edwards's car slammed into the catch fencing at Talladega and injured nine fans. Three were killed in Charlotte, North Carolina, a decade earlier in the IndyCar Series, and three others were killed in 1998 in Michigan during CART's U.S. 500.
Driver Michael Annett of the Richard Petty Motorsports team was treated at the Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach for bruises to his chest and sternum received in a crash on the 116th lap of the 120-lap race. He was given a CT scan and was being kept in for observation, the team said in a statement.
The Orlando Sentinel and Reuters contributed to this report.
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