Austin Dillon's car was catapulted into the catchfence in the Daytona International Speedway trioval during a massive crash at the end of Sunday night's Coke Zero 400 as Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the race.
One fan was taken to the hospital after it appeared some debris from Dillon's car flew into the grandstands.
Junior crossed the finish line ahead of a massive pack of cars typical of any restrictor plate race. Denny Hamlin got turned around behind Junior and chaos ensued. Dillon's car got launched from the inside line of the track over two lanes of cars and into the catchfence, where it hit bottom-side first, going from nearly 200 mph to zero in an instant.
According to Daytona president Joie Chitwood, eight fans declined treatment in the grandstands following the crash. The person taken to the hospital was treated and released from Halifax Health early Monday morning.
13 fans looked at in stands, 8 declined care, 4 treated here, 1 taken to hospital stable
— Jenna Fryer (@JennaFryer) July 6, 2015
Fan treated and released from Halifax Health Medical Center.
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) July 6, 2015
Replays showed debris from Dillon's car making it through the catchfence towards the grandstands. Dillon walked away from the crash and waved to the crowd. He was released from the infield care center afterwards and said he had a bruised tailbone and forearm.
“I am just going to be really sore," Dillon said. "It got my tailbone pretty good and my arm. Should be fine, just go ice it up and get ready for Kentucky. But just thank the good Lord for taking care of me and for what NASCAR has done to make the sport this much safer. I just hope everybody in the stands is all right. That is the next biggest concern. Just praying for everybody and glad the good Lord looked out for me tonight.”
Here's what the crash looked like from the stands.
"That scared the hell out of me," Junior said. "I'll be honest with you. I saw the whole thing happen. I was looking in the mirror the whole last lap and I saw [Hamlin] get turned, I guess that's how it started.
"That was just terrifying to watch. You know a wreck like that has a high potential for someone to get injured and you saw the car get high and into the fence and you just worry about everyone else in the grandstands and you just don't want to see that happen."
Jimmie Johnson said he was fearing the worst after watching the crash in his mirror.
— Nate Ryan (@nateryan) July 6, 2015
Daytona is in the midst of a massive reconstruction project. Part of the project is a remodeling of the grandstands. The portion of stands where Dillon's crash occurred is a completed section of the remodel, with the seats situated further from the track than the old configuration. Replays appeared to show most of the debris from Dillon's car not making it into the grandstands.
The impact tore an incredibly large hole in the catch fence and ripped the engine block from Dillon's car. The engine sat in the infield of the track smoldering after the crash. All that was left of Dillon's car was the roll cage encapsulating the cockpit and it came to rest upside down at the end of pit road after being hit by Brad Keselowski's car.
The crash will again put the focus on racing safety following the race at the same track where Kyle Busch broke a leg and a foot in February.
Is it conceivable to have a catchfence design that doesn't tear cars apart like a can opener? Is there a way to modify the racing at restrictor plate races to prevent cars from getting airborne so easily? The situation could have resulted in more injuries.
Junior had the race's dominant car. He led the most laps and his car was able to consistently drive away from the field by a couple car lengths on every restart. The finish of the race was set up by a spin by Sam Hornish Jr. and Earnhardt was able to easily hold off Hamlin and teammate Johnson.
It's Earnhardt's second win of the season. He won in May at Talladega.
Sunday's race was delayed over three hours by rain and finished after 2:30 a.m. ET Monday.