Almost a month after his terrifying crash on the last lap of the Daytona 500, Ryan Newman on Wednesday sat down for his first extensive interview to discuss the incident that has kept him out of the last three NASCAR Cup Series races. And Newman did it, he noted, without a headache.
“Which is amazing,” Newman allowed on the “Today” show. “Just a miracle on so many levels.”
On Feb. 17, Newman was a few hundred yards away from winning his second career Daytona 500 when a helpful push from second-place Ryan Blaney went wrong, sending Newman’s No. 6 Ford Mustang into the outside wall and flipping into the air. While tumbling, he was nailed on the driver’s side door by Corey LaJoie’s car traveling at full speed. Newman’s car slid and eventually stopped upside down on the driver’s side. He was unresponsive.
Newman, 42, said Wednesday he was knocked out during the crash, hence his unresponsiveness in the immediate aftermath, but he did not specify when exactly he lost consciousness. Once the NASCAR safety crew was able to cut him out of the car, he was transported to nearby Halifax Medical Center and treated for what he later described as a head injury. He avoided internal organ damage and broken bones.
“Basically like a bruised brain,” Newman explained Wednesday. “Like it just takes time for it to heal. I was knocked out. There was a point where I don’t remember a part of the race.
“I just feel so lucky, on so many levels, I feel so lucky. Like, you look at the crash and think that’s spectacular in a bad way. But you look at the car afterwards, you think about all the things that happened right for me to be sitting here.”
Part of what went right for Newman, he said, was the way LaJoie’s car hit his.
“I got hit from behind by a car going 190 miles an hour, and (the initial crash) pushed me back, but then (LaJoie) pushed me forward … like his car actually hit my seat. Lots of things that happened that aligned.”
Newman said he does not know when he will race again, but he would like to get back into the car “as soon as (he) possibly can.” According to Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass, Roush Fenway Racing, Newman’s team, “has said the expectation is to have him back in the car at a time when he could conceivably compete for the championship — which would mean win a race and be top-30 in points.”
Ross Chastain has been driving the No. 6 Ford in the Cup Series while Newman recovers. He has finished 27th, 17th and 23rd at Las Vegas, Auto Club and Phoenix, respectively.
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