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article imageVideo: Horrific Daytona crash sends fans to the hospital

By Greta McClain     Feb 24, 2013 in Sports
Daytona Beach - The start of the 2013 NASCAR season went from cheers of excitement to gasps of horror as a car slams into the catch fence, showering spectators with debris and critically injuring at least two fans.
The horrific crash occurred on the last lap of the NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Saturday. With Regan Smith leading the race, the second place car of Brad Keselowski got a run on Smith and attempted to pass. Smith tried to block Keselowski but the two made contact. Smith's car turned in front of Keselowski's car, triggering a multi-car crash. Keselowski told ESPN:
“Regan was in a good spot. He was first and I was second, and we were pushing. I kind of had the run and the move to win the race, and Regan obviously tried to block it, and that’s understandable. He wants to win too, and at the end it just caused chaos.”
Smith stated:
“I knew coming off (Turn) 4 I was going to have to throw a block. That’s a product of the tandem racing. Brad knew he was going to make a move. And that was all there was to it.”
That was not all there was to it however. The crash resulted in more than just mangled sheet metal. Many of the 23 cars remaining in the 40 car field were involved in the wreck, including rookie driver, Kyle Larson. As the field began to swerve and slow down in an effort to avoid the wrecking cars of Smith and Keselowski, Justin Allgaier ran into the back of Larson. The contact caused Larson's car to go airborne, slamming into the catch fence about 40 yards from the finish line. His car engine became embedded in the fencing while other engine parts, the car's suspension and a tire showered fans, causing several injuries.
With much of his car littering the stands and the track, Larson's car finally came to a rest, flames and smoke billowing out. Remarkably, Larson was unhurt and was able to quickly exit his vehicle. He told the Speed Channel:
“Hopefully, all the fans and drivers are OK. I was getting pushed from behind. By the time my spotter said, ‘Lift,’ it was too late. I had some flames come in the cockpit. Luckily, I was all right and could get out of the car quickly.”
What is left of Kyle Larson s car after a last lap wreck in the 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
What is left of Kyle Larson's car after a last lap wreck in the 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
Screen Capture
According to Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III, a total of 28 people were injured by the flying debris. Fourteen people were transported to local hospitals due to serious injuries. Another fourteen received medical treatment at the Daytona Speedway Medical Center for minor injuries. However, Byron Cogdell, a spokesman for Halifax Health, told the Miami Herald12 people were transported to Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach, while 6 others were taken to Halifax Health Medical Center of Port Orange. All of the patients transported are listed in stable condition.
Terry Huckaby's brother, Eddie, was one of the fans injured by the flying debris. A large piece of metal struck Eddie in the leg, causing a severe laceration. The bleeding was so bad, Terry had to use his belt to create a tourniquet to control the bleeding. Terry told Yahoo! Sports:
"When the car hit, debris went everywhere. Tires flying over our head. There was smoke from the motor. You've got to realize, a motor was sitting in the stands. And a wheel. I don't mean a tire. A wheel with a brake-drum on it and everything flying over your head and debris everywhere and smoke and people crying."
Daytona is the birthplace of NASCAR and officials at Daytona International Speedway have always taken pride in that fact, along with the fact they have some of the most advanced safety features in the sport. The high speeds and wild wrecks that are a tradition at Daytona prompted officials to build what is believed to be state of the art fencing between the grandstands and the track. But when balancing safety with a need to allow spectator's visibility of the track, it is virtually impossible to prevent a 3,000 pound vehicle travelling at 200 miles per hour from spewing debris if it hits the fence.
Tony Stewart went on to win the race. During a very subdued celebration in Victory Lane, Stewart told
"The important thing is what's going on on the frontstretch right now. We've always known since racing was started this is a dangerous sport. But it's hard. We assume that risk. It's hard when the fans get caught up in it. As much as we want to celebrate right now, as much as this is a big deal to us, I'm more worried about the drivers and fans in the stands right now. I could see it all in the mirror and it didn't look good from where I was either."
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