Denny Hamlin scored the victory in Monday’s rain delayed Daytona 500 at Daytona International Raceway, but it came with a muted celebration after a vicious crash marred the final moments of the event.
Former Daytona 500 champion Ryan Newman was taken to an area hospital after a grinding crash coming to the checkered flag. His team said in a release that he is currently in serious condition with non-life threatening injuries.
Hamlin was in third coming to the checkered flag when leader Ryan Newman and Ryan Blaney tangled coming to the flag.
Newman’s car was turned into the outside wall, where it flipped over and was then hit in the roof by the car of Corey LaJoie.
Newman’s car slid on its roof in a shower of sparks. It came to rest at the exit of pit road, where rescue crews were quickly on the scene.
NASCAR President and CEO Steve O'Donnell updated the media just after 10 pm Monday night with a statement from Roush Fenway Racing
"Ryan Newman is being treated at Halifax Medial Center," the statement read. "He is in serious condition, but doctors have indicated his injuries are not life threatening.
"We appreciate your thoughts and prayers and ask that you respect the privacy of Ryan and his family during this time."
"We're grateful for the news about Ryan," said Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports. "We had been waiting for information just like everyone else, so to hear some positive news tonight is a relief. Ryan has been an important part of the Roush Fenway and Ford NASCAR program this past year, and he is so respected for being a great competitor by everyone in the sport. The entire Ford family is sending positive thoughts for his recovery, but our first thoughts remain with his family and his team."
LaJoie was uninjured in the accident.
“I heard he (Newman) went straight to the hospital,” LaJoie said. “That’s obviously scary. I got a big push there that last coming to the white. I don’t know who was pushing me and I kind of stalled out and I don’t know who hooked Newman. I was hoping he would kind of bounce off the fence to the left, but he didn’t and I hit him. I don’t know exactly where I hit him. I haven’t seen a replay. It was some scary stuff. Don’t get me wrong. My car was on fire. My seat belts grabbed all sorts of areas, but it was a good day for us. I hope Ryan is okay.”
Meanwhile, Hamlin edged out Blaney at the flag stand by inches to score the win.
It’s his second straight Daytona 500 victory – making him the fourth ever NASCAR Cup Series driver to win back-to-back runnings of the Great American Race, joining Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough and Sterling Marlin with that record.
It’s also the third career Daytona 500 win for Hamlin.
“I think we take for granted sometimes how safe these cars are. We’re praying for Ryan (Newman),” a subdued Hamlin said after the race. “Worked really well with Ryan through this whole race. Obviously, he got turned right there. Proud of our whole FedEx team.
“I don’t even know what to say, so unexpected. I knew they were going to come with a big run there. My job was to just make sure I didn’t put a block up where they would wreck me so I could make it to another corner. We got to the 12 (Ryan Blaney’s) bumper and got the push from there. I knew I was going to give him a big run. The race wasn’t over and obviously it worked out well for us there at the end.”
Blaney tied his best result in the Daytona 500, having also finished second back in 2017. His thoughts were on Newman after the race.
"We pushed Newman there to the lead and then we got a push from the 11 (Hamlin),” Blaney said. “I kind of went low and he blocked that and so I was committed to pushing him to the win and have a Ford win it. I don’t know. We just got the bumpers hooked up wrong and I turned him. I hope he is alright. It looked pretty bad. I was trying to push him to the win. I don’t like saying that things just happen because I feel really bad about it. It was a close one. I just hope Ryan is alright.”
After being delayed from Sunday due to rains that hit the Daytona International Speedway 20 laps into the 200 lap event, the race restarted just after 4 pm Monday.
While the first two segments of the event ran mostly incident free, with Chase Elliott and Hamlin winning the segments respectively, it was the final 70 laps of the event that saw carnage break out.
With drivers battling back and forth for the lead, and teams playing our varying pit strategies, all of those plans went out the window when a crash among the leaders slowed the action.
It was triggered as Brad Keselowski and Newman battled for the lead, when Keselowski’s Ford was turned into the outside wall on the backstretch off of Aric Almirola’s front bumper. That triggered a grinding crash that gathered up some 16 cars, including Jimmie Johnson, Darrell Wallace, Jr., Martin Truex, Jr., Matt DiBenedetto, David Ragan, Alex Bowman and Ryan Preece, among others.
Race officials put the race under the red flag to allow for clean up.
Back under green, Newman would move back to the lead with a push from Joey Logano. Following another caution on lap 192 for a tangle between Reed Sorenson and Timmy Hill, Logano would move to the lead, with Newman battling back on the inside.
Newman would power back to the lead with four laps to go with a push from behind from Hamlin. The two were trying to build a lead, and with two laps to go, Hamlin powered around Newman to move to the point.
Moments later, more trouble broke out when Ross Chastain made contact with Ryan Preece as the two raced into turn one, sending both cars out of control and collecting several of the lead pack cars in the process. Logano, Ty Dillon, Christopher Bell were gathered up, as the race again when under the red flag to allow for clean up.
That sent the race into overtime, but a problem on the following restart between Clint Bowyer, Justin Haley and Michael McDowell sent both cars spinning, bringing out another caution flag.
On the second overtime restart, Hamlin moved to the lead, with Blaney and Newman racing side-by-side for second.
With the white flag in the air, Newman had a run on Hamlin, with Hamlin moving to block the advancing Ford.
Behind the leaders, another crash broke out, this time involving Dawsonville, Georgia’s Chase Elliott. With the incident happening behind the leader, NASCAR left the race under green, allowing the leaders to race back to the checkered flag.
As they covered the final 2.5 miles of the race, Newman was able to get around Hamlin on the backstretch with a big push from behind from Blaney. That set up the run to the checkered flag, and the accident that sent Newman to the hospital.
In the media center after the race, Hamlin’s mind was on Newman.
“I mean, obviously not finding out anything about the 6 (Newman)'s wreck until essentially Jamie (Little, Fox Sports reporter) told us no start-finish interview, and so I knew it was bad. I knew him crossing the track there was a bad scenario in the first place. But yeah, it's a weird balance of excitement and happiness for yourself, but obviously someone's health and their family is bigger than any win in any sport.
“We're just hoping for the best.”
For car owner Joe Gibbs, who now has four Daytona 500 wins, he wanted to stress that he and his team did not know immediately post-race how serious the situation with Newman was.
“When everything happened at the end of the race, I knew that there was a race, but I never even focused over there,” Gibbs said. “I was focusing on our car, and everybody started celebrating around us.
“So I say to everybody out there, some people may have saw us and said, well, these guys are celebrating when there's a serious issue going on. So hopefully - I apologize to everybody, but we really didn't know.
“We got in the winner's circle, and then that's when people told us, later on in the winner's circle. So I wanted to explain that to everyone.”
Chris Buescher finished in third, with Unadilla, Georgia's David Ragan in fourth, and Kevin Harvick in fifth.
Chase Elliott was credited with a 17th place finish.
NASCAR Cup Series
Daytona International Speedway – Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona 500 – February 16, 2020
1. (21) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 209.
2. (27) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 209.
3. (19) Chris Buescher, Ford, 209.
4. (30) David Ragan, Ford, 209.
5. (10) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 209.
6. (29) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 209.
7. (39) Brendan Gaughan(i), Chevrolet, 209.
8. (36) Corey LaJoie, Ford, 209.
9. (7) Ryan Newman, Ford, 209.
10. (8) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 209.
11. (23) John Hunter Nemechek #, Ford, 209.
12. (13) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 209.
13. (33) Justin Haley(i), Chevrolet, 209.
14. (26) Michael McDowell, Ford, 209.
15. (11) Darrell Wallace, Jr., Chevrolet, 209.
16. (34) Brennan Poole #, Chevrolet, 209.
17. (25) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 209.
18. (14) Erik Jones, Toyota, 208.
19. (16) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 207.
20. (1) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Chevrolet, 206.
21. (17) Christopher Bell #, Toyota, Accident, 205.
22. (5) Aric Almirola, Ford, 205.
23. (37) Joey Gase(i), Chevrolet, 203.
24. (2) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 203.
25. (20) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 201.
26. (3) Joey Logano, Ford, Accident, 200.
27. (32) Timmy Hill(i), Ford, Accident, 200.
28. (22) Tyler Reddick #, Chevrolet, Accident, 199.
29. (31) Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, Accident, 198.
30. (24) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, Accident, 198.
31. (40) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, Accident, 192.
32. (15) Martin Truex, Jr., Toyota, Accident, 186.
33. (18) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, Accident, 184.
34. (28) Kyle Busch, Toyota, Engine, 184.
35. (6) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, Accident, 184.
36. (9) Brad Keselowski, Ford, Accident, 183.
37. (12) Cole Custer #, Ford, Rear End, 174.
38. (38) B.J. McLeod(i), Ford, Accident, 105.
39. (35) Quin Houff #, Chevrolet, Accident, 89.
40. (4) William Byron, Chevrolet, Accident, 58.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 141.11 mph.
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 42 Mins, 10 Secs. Margin of Victory: .014 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 9 for 39 laps.
Lead Changes: 23 among 13 drivers.
Lap Leaders: R. Stenhouse Jr. 0;R. Stenhouse Jr. 1-23;M. McDowell 24;B. Keselowski 25-28;A. Almirola 29-30;B. Keselowski 31-38;R. Newman 39;A. Almirola 40-43;C. Elliott 44-66;A. Bowman 67;D. Hamlin 68-92;C. LaJoie 93;D. Hamlin 94-135;R. Blaney 136;R. Stenhouse Jr. 137;R. Blaney 138-140;K. Busch 141-148;B. Keselowski 149-163;J. Logano 164-169;J. Johnson 170-172;A. Bowman 173-174;K. Busch 175-180;B. Keselowski 181-183;R. Newman 184-197;D. Hamlin 198-209.
Leaders Summary: (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led) Denny Hamlin 3 times for 79 laps; Brad Keselowski 4 times for 30 laps; Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 2 times for 24 laps; Chase Elliott 1 time for 23 laps; Ryan Newman 2 times for 15 laps; Kyle Busch 2 times for 14 laps; Aric Almirola 2 times for 6 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 6 laps; Ryan Blaney 2 times for 4 laps; Alex Bowman 2 times for 3 laps; Jimmie Johnson 1 time for 3 laps; Corey LaJoie 1 time for 1 lap; Michael McDowell 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 9,88,10,22,48,12,47,21,17,13
Stage #2 Top Ten: 11,18,47,19,77,48,9,12,22,17
Top 10 in Points: 1. Denny Hamlin – 50 (1 Win); 2. Ryan Blaney – 43; 3. Kevin Harvick – 39; 4. Chris Buescher – 38; 5. Ryan Newman – 36; 6. Kyle Larson – 35; 7. Chase Elliott – 34; 8. David Ragan – 33; 9. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. – 32; 10. Aric Almirola – 32.