Ryan Newman and Ryan Blaney soared into the lead down the backstretch on the final lap of Monday’s Daytona 500.
The two Ford drivers jockeyed for position through the final turn, but Newman — the 2008 champion — held firm. It was at that point where Blaney said he decided to push Newman toward his second title.
Instead, as Denny Hamlin charged with one last run toward the finish line, Blaney pushing ended in a dramatic crash.
“I thought I was pretty square, but I just got him to the right,” Blaney said. “I hope he’s alright. That looked really bad, and it’s not something I wanted to do. It definitely wasn’t intentional.”
Hamlin beat Blaney to the line by 0.014 seconds, the second-slimmest margin in Daytona 500 history, for his third 500 victory as Newman was sent spiraling into the air upside down.
Newman lost control and crashed hard into the wall near the finish line. His No. 6 Ford flipped onto its hood and slid directly into the path of Corey LaJoie. The force of the second collision launched Newman into the air, and he eventually skidded to a halt near Turn 1.
Visibly somber while addressing reporters in the pit stalls, Blaney said, “Even though it’s unintentional, you don’t want to hurt anybody. I’m just waiting to see if he’s OK.”
Newman was taken to Halifax Medical Center for treatment. Roush Fenway Racing, Newman’s team, said he was in “serious condition.”
“But doctors have indicated his injuries are not life threatening,” the team said in a statement.
Blaney was far from the only driver immediately concerned with Newman’s condition after the race.
Shortly after being showered by purple confetti in Victory Lane, Hamlin told Fox Sports’ Jamie Little, “No. 1, we’re praying for Ryan.”
Clint Bowyer, whose bid for a first Daytona 500 in his 15th start was spoiled by an overtime restart wreck, posted onto Twitter: “This (expletive) is real. We’re all on the road together doing what we love. Please let (Newman) be OK here.”