The latest incident happened in the early morning hours Monday during the rain-delayed Coke Zero 400. But as the pack of cars chased him on a two-lap overtime sprint to the finish, contact in traffic sent Austin Dillon’s auto flying upside down into the catch fence.
According to Daytona global Speedway President Joie Chitwood II, 13 fans were medically examined. Five fans were treated for unspecified injuries, with one going to the hospital and being released later Monday morning. “That’s job one at NASCAR – good, safe competition and we are already on it”.
Crashes might be breath-taking to see for fans and a fascinating part of the sport, as long as everyone walks away in one piece, but the last thing NASCAR needs is another death on the track.
The crash was eerily reminiscent of a 2001 crash at the same track that killed Dale Earnhardt, Earnhardt Jr.’s father and a seven-time Sprint Cup champion, on the final lap of the Daytona 500.
A wreck at the finish line of the Coke Zero 400 sent Austin Dillon’s vehicle into the safety fence, several cars spinning and left fans in the stands hurt.
Officials with the track and NASCAR said they will evaluate the performance of the catch fence. “I had just got done stopping and I had crew members everywhere”. Although Johnson agreed with Dillon that slower speeds might help, “there’s no guarantees”. “But like I said, I held on to the steering wheel as hard as I could”.
Dillon struck the catchfence just past the start/finish line so violently it separated the engine block completely away from the No. 3 vehicle, which laid on the track smoldering. “And then I just wanted to get out of there and let the fans know that I was OK, let my parents and grandparents know that I was all right”.
“What it didn’t keep out of the grandstand was the shrapnel and that’s the thing that I think the industry is going to be attacking with a vengeance right now”, said Wheeler.
Only three laps into the 160 lap race, David Gilliland tried to maneuver his vehicle to the inside in front of Clint Boyer, causing a multicar wreck.
“It scared the [bleep] out of me”, Earnhardt Jr. said. “I hate that all happened, but just at the end of the race, it becomes pretty aggressive”. “I didn’t care about anything except figuring out who was OK”, Earnhardt said. “I think it’s offensive to an entire race, it really does nothing for anybody to be there flying”.
“It’s not really acceptable, I don’t think”, Dillon said of the current model. The grandstands were evacuated for lightning in the area just before qualifying was scheduled to begin, and when rains came, Cup qualifying was called off as the scheduled start time for the evening’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race drew near.