Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood said that 14 fans were transported to hospitals for medical treatment and 14 more fans were treated on site at a medical facility after a horrifying crash sent debris into the stands as the DRIVE4COPD 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race exploded into chaos at the checkered flag.
"First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with our race fans," Chitwood said. "Following incident, we responded appropriately according to safety protocols and had emergency medical personnel at incident immediately. We transported 14 people off property and 14 were treated at our on-track care center. We are in the process of repairing the facility and will be ready to go racing tomorrow."
At first update one adult was in surgery with what is called life-threatening head trauma, and a 14-year-old was in critical, but not life-threatening condition, at Halifax Medical Center. Byron Cogdell a medical center representative has updated the situation and said both individuals were upgraded to stable condition.
The accident occurred as the cars came to the tri-oval to take the checkered flag. Regan Smith was leading Brad Keselowski and threw a block that did not work. Smith got turned and the rest of the field speed towards Smith's car. Once contact was made Kyle Larson's No. 32 Chevrolet ended up being thrown into the air and the catch fence. The whole front end of his car was sheered off leaving one tire and the engine laying in the walkway area on the grandstand side of the fence. The other tire and components connected to it flew into the stands over the catch fence along with other debris. Video of the crash can be seen here.
NASCAR vice president Steve O'Donnell said that there will be a full investigation of the accident to see if any safety improvements can be made.
"We look at these things after every incident to learn how we can apply changes in the future," O'Donnell said. "If we can improve upon it, we will put those improvements in place as soon as we can. But we need to take the time to really study it. The safety of our fans is first and foremost."
All of the drivers involved in the race that were interviewed relayed their concern for the injured fans. Tony Stewart who escaped the crash and won his seventh season opening Daytona Nationwide Series race in the last nine years didn't even conduct a normal victory celebration as all of his thoughts were on the horrific accident.
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