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28 Fans Injured in NASCAR Nationwide Crash at Daytona

By James Fish
Epoch Times Staff
Created: February 24, 2013 Last Updated: February 25, 2013
Related articles: Sports » Motorsports
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Medical personnel remove an injured fan from the stands following an incident at the finish of the NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Medical personnel remove an injured fan from the stands following an incident at the finish of the NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Twenty-eight fans were injured, one very seriously, when pieces of Kyle Larson’s Chevrolet pierced the Turn Four catch fencing and flew into the crowd during a violent multi-car wreck at Daytona International Speedway Saturday afternoon.

Fourteen injured fans were treated on-site; seven more were sent to the Halifax Medical Center on the Speedway grounds, and six went to Halifax Health Center in Port Orange. All of these were in stable condition as of 7 p.m., according to NASCAR.com.

One spectator was struck in the head by debris, resulting in an injury described as “life-threatening.” This patient was taken to Florida Hospital Memorial Center; no further information is currently available.

Emergency workers tend to injured fans and smoke rises from the smoldering motor out of Kyle Larson’s Chevrolet. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Emergency workers tend to injured fans and smoke rises from the smoldering motor out of Kyle Larson’s Chevrolet. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

The accident occurred during the final seconds of the 120-lap NASCAR Nationwide DriveforCOPD 300. Race leader Regan Smith tried to block Brad Keselowski from passing exiting the final corner; the two drivers touched, spinning Smith and setting off a chain reaction among thre pack of cars charging up from behind.

Kyle Larson’s car hit a car ahead, sending Larson’s car spinning backwards into the catch fencing well above the three-foot tall SAFER barrier. The fence atop the wall stopped most of the car, but the engine, front wheels, and some assorted mechanical pieces pierced the fence and entered the grandstands.

The fencing will be repaired in time for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Daytona 500, which starts at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood and NASCAR Senior Vice President for Racing Operations Steve O’Donnell talked to the media about the incident Saturday evening.

Track officials try to extinguish the flaming engine of Kyle Larson’s Chevrolet by the holes torn in the catch fencing. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Track officials try to extinguish the flaming engine of Kyle Larson’s Chevrolet by the holes torn in the catch fencing. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

“First and foremost our thoughts and prayers are with our race fans,’’ Chitwood said according to NASCAR.com. “Following the incident we responded appropriately according to our safety protocols, and had emergency medical personnel at the incident immediately.

“We were able to transport the individuals that needed care off property. We dealt with the other people on property. The team right now is preparing and will be ready for tomorrow.’’

Chitwood said that track and series officials planned to seat fans in the affected grandstand sections for the Daytona 500.

The engine block, still smoldering, sits by one front wheel from Kyle Larson’s Chevrolet. The other wheel went a dozen rows into the grandstands, along with chunks of metal which hit more than two dozen fans. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

The engine block, still smoldering, sits by one front wheel from Kyle Larson’s Chevrolet. The other wheel went a dozen rows into the grandstands, along with chunks of metal which hit more than two dozen fans. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

“We don’t anticipate moving any of our fans,’’ Chitwood said. “We had our safety protocols in place. Our security maintained a buffer that separates the fans from the fencing area. With the fencing being prepared tonight to our safety protocols, we expect to go racing tomorrow with no changes.’’

This is not the first time parts of a crashed car have broken through the catch fencing. In 2009, at Talladega Superspeedway, Carl Edwards’ car flipped and flew into the catch fencing; pieces of the car injured seven fans, including 17-year-old Blake Bobbitt, whose jaw was smashed so badly it took ten surgeries to repair her face.

These incidents show one thing that fans all know—or should know: racing is a dangerous sport, for everyone on or near the track.

When Daytona or NASCAR officials say they have no plans to move fans back from the track, they are not being foolish, but realistic. Most fans would rather get as close as possible to the action and endure the risk than to be pushed farther back and separated by more layers of wall and fence.

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