On the final lap of Saturday’s race at Daytona global Speedway, Dillon’s vehicle went airborne, high into the fence.
Daytona President Joie Chitwood said 13 fans were attended to in the grandstands. The crash injured five fans, although just one needed to be taken to a hospital for treatment.
“I am just going to be really sore”, Dillon said. We do everything we can and have made a lot of changes and incorporated a lot of things into these cars to try to keep them on the ground, but you never can – in those imperfect situations, there’s not much you can do about it.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) – A horrific last-lap accident that left drivers fearing for Austin Dillon’s safety muted Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s victory in the rain-delayed race at Daytona worldwide Speedway. Dillon was present for numerous late Dale Earnhardt’s 34 wins at Daytona.
Earnhardt crossed the finish line at 2:41 am Monday morning filled with dread after Dillon’s vehicle sailed upside down into the fence then shot back onto the track.
NASCAR deserves credit for improving the safety of their cars and tracks, but the decision to stay with restrictor plate racing means more scary accidents such as this one will happen again. When we hit the catch fence first, I didn’t realize where I was on the track, if I was getting hit by a auto or what it was because it happened so fast. At the same instant that it pushed the nose up in the air, he got hit and that just sent it the rest of the way. Although Johnson agreed with Dillon that slower speeds might help, “there’s no guarantees”. It comforted me pretty quick.
“It’s an experience that, believe me, will send chills up your spine”, Wheeler said. Dillon’s vehicle climbed over another toward the wall, then went airborne and into the catch fence.
Gordon, who won the Daytona 500 three times and the track’s second race – usually held on Fourth of July weekend – three times, received a warm welcome from the crowd during driver introductions before the race. “It makes for more excitement but you’re always concerned when a guy crashes that bad”, said Russel Cordray as he was buying tickets for the Brickyard.
Dillon said wrecks like his are simply a product of superspeedway racing, where restrictor plates bunch up the field and “you’re just praying and hoping you get through it at the end”.
“You have to learn from history, and develop and innovate new ways to make our sport safe, and technology has come a long way”, said Dillon. “It scared the hell out of me”, Earnhardt said.
“We could probably bring the speed down and still get the same style of racing we want to see out there for our fans”, Dillon explained. You just worry about everybody else in the grandstands and all that stuff. I’m sure I’m going to find more bumps and bruises during the week, but right now I feel all right.