Fans hurt in Daytona race pile-up
TERROR AT DAYTONA: Kyle Larson (32, Clorox Chevrolet), Justin Allgaier (31, Brandt Chevrolet), Brian Scott (2 Shore Lodge Chevrolet), Parker Kligerman (77 Bandit Chippers Toyota) and and Brad Keselowski (22 Discount Tire Dodge) during the 10-c
DAYTONA, Florida - A fiery 10-car pile-up at the Daytona speedway on Saturday injured at least 28 fans and a driver.
The crash sent car debris, including a tyre, flying into the crowd on the final lap of the Nationwide Nascar race. Race officials said 14 fans were sent to nearby hospitals and another 14 were treated at the Florida track, which will host the prestigious Daytona 500 race today (Sunday Feb 24).
DAYTONA 500 WILL RUN
Spectator Terry Huckaby, whose brother was sent to hospital with a leg injury, told ESPN sports network: "Stuff was flying everywhere. Tyres were flying by and smoke and everything else."
Among the injured were a 14-year-old boy who was later reported to be in a critical but stable condition and a man who was in surgery with a life-threatening head injury, according to ESPN.
Driver Michael Annett of the Richard Petty Motorsports team was being treated at Daytona Beach for bruises to his chest and sternum. He was given a CT scan and was being kept for observation, the team said.
Joie Chitwood, president of the Daytona International Speedway, said Sunday's main race would go ahead despite the incident as crews were repairing the track and the grandstand.
"First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with our race fans," Chitwood said. "Following the incident, we responded appropriately according to our safety protocols and had emergency medical personnel at the incident immediately."
Tony Stewart won the race, the curtain-raiser for American stock-car racing's biggest event, on Sunday. It will feature Danica Patrick as the first woman to start on pole position.
CAR SENT AIRBORNE
Saturday's crash happened after driver Regan Smith, who was leading, tried to block another driver as they were nearing the chequered flag and hit the other car, a report on NASCAR.com said.
"My fault," said Smith, who finished 14th, told nascar.com. "I threw a block. I'll take the blame for it but when you see the 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 OK, 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 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."
The injured were carried away on stretchers from the chaotic scene in the stands. They were taken to Halifax Health Medical Centre and Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Centre in Daytona Beach.
Nascar's vice-president of race operations, Steve O'Donnell, said 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 Sunday'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."
It is rare that spectators are hurt in American racing but it has happened...
• As recently as 2009 Carl Edwards' car slammed into the catch-fence at Talladega and injured nine fans.
• Three people were killed in Charlotte, North Carolina, a decade earlier in the IndyCar Series.
• Three more were killed in 1998 in Michigan during Cart’s US 500.