At least 33 fans injured after massive car wreck at Nationwide race in Daytona
AP February 23, 2013 6:15PM
Kyle Larson (32) goes airborne and into the catch fence in a multi-car crash involving Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88), Parker Kligerman (77), Justin Allgaier (31) and Brian Scott (2) during the final lap of the NASCAR Nationwide Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
(Car number in parentheses)
1. (10) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet
2. (24) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet
3. (29) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet
4. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota
5. (16) Greg Biffle, Ford
6. (5) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet
7. (42) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet
8. (33) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet
9. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet
10. (15) Clint Bowyer, Toyota
11. (78) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet
12. (20) Matt Kenseth, Toyota
13. (14) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet
14. (55) Mark Martin, Toyota
15. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford
16. (27) Paul Menard, Chevrolet
17. (13) Casey Mears, Ford
18. (31) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet
19. (88) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet
20. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet
21. (22) Joey Logano, Ford
22. (34) David Ragan, Ford
23. (47) Bobby Labonte, Toyota
24. (9) Marcos Ambrose, Ford
25. (38) David Gilliland, Ford
26. (43) Aric Almirola, Ford
27. (87) Joe Nemechek, Toyota
28. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford
29. (26) Michael Waltrip, Toyota
30. (7) Dave Blaney, Chevrolet
31. (95) Scott Speed, Ford
32. (35) Josh Wise, Ford
33. (21) Trevor Bayne, Ford
34. (39) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet
35. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota
36. (99) Carl Edwards, Ford
37. (56) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota
38. (98) Michael McDowell, Ford
39. (32) Terry Labonte, Ford
40. (51) Regan Smith, Chevrolet
41. (36) J.J. Yeley, Chevrolet
42. (83) David Reutimann, Toyota
43. (93) Travis Kvapil, Toyota
Updated: March 25, 2013 7:03AM
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — At least 33 fans were injured Saturday during a NASCAR race when a car flew into the fence at Daytona International Speedway, hurling a tire and large pieces of debris into the stands.
The accident happened on the last lap of the second-tier Nationwide Series event on the eve of Sunday’s Daytona 500, which officials said would go on as scheduled.
The crash began as the field approached the checkered flag and leader Regan Smith attempted to block Brad Keselowski to preserve the win. That triggered a chain reaction, and rookie Kyle Larson hit the cars in front of him and went airborne into the fence.
The entire front end was sheared off Larson’s car, and his burning engine wedged through a gaping hole in the fence. Chunks of debris from the car were thrown into the stands, including a tire that cleared the top of the fence and landed midway up the spectator section closest to the track.
Larson, 20, stood in shock several yards away from his car as fans in the stands waived frantically for help. Smoke from the burning engine briefly clouded the area, and emergency vehicles descended on the scene.
Ambulance sirens could be heard wailing behind the grandstands at a time the race winner would typically be doing celebratory burnouts.
“It was freaky. When I looked to my right, the accident happened,” said Rick Harpster of Orange Park, Fla., who had a bird’s-eye view of the wreck. “I looked over and I saw a tire fly straight over the fence into the stands, but after that, I didn’t see anything else. That was the worst thing I have seen, seeing that tire fly into the stands. I knew it was going to be severe.”
Shannan Devine, of Egg Harbor Township, N.J., was sitting about 250 feet away from where the car smashed into the fence and could see plumes of smoke directly in front of her.
Devine said many fans got in the way of rescue efforts by trying to take pictures and videos, even jumping over fencing in hopes of getting closer to the scene.
Shannon Speedway president Joie Chitwood said 14 fans were treated on site, and 14 others were taken to hospitals. Chitwood didn’t give any updates on their conditions. Local officials said 19 fans were taken to neighboring hospitals, including two who were in critical condition but were later upgraded to stable.
As emergency workers tended to injured fans and ambulance sirens wailed in the background, a somber Tony Stewart, who won the race, skipped the traditional victory celebration.
“The important thing is what is going on on the frontstretch,” Stewart said. “We’ve always known, and since racing started, this is a dangerous sport. We assume that risk, but it’s hard when the fans get caught up in it.” AP