When NASCAR star Ryan Newman was leading in the final moments of the 2020 Daytona 500, it seemed clear the then-42-year-old driver claimed victory.
But as many racing fans and the general populace will remember, that wasn’t the case. A good amount of high-speed drafting and bumping later, Newman crashed into the wall and sent flying into the air. While Denny Hamlin claimed victory, Newman finished ninth, but only because his flaming car crossed the finish line upside down.
The classic adage about NASCAR wrecks being safer the worse they look were fans’ immediate hope. However, it became clear quickly that this was a serious crash and not just one that was easy on the eyes with little consequence.
The ensuing minutes were crucial, as responders needed around 15 minutes to get Newman out of the vehicle. He spent two days in a Daytona hospital for a bruised brain but was able to eventually walk out with his family.
Ryan Newman Discusses Helmet
After recovering from the catastrophic crash last year, Newman described the fortune of his good health and safety.
“It takes time for it to heal. I was knocked out,” Ryan Newman told TODAY. “There was a point where I don’t remember a part of the race. Realistically, I feel so lucky. On so many levels, I feel so lucky. You look at the crash and you think that is spectacular in a bad way. You look at the car afterwards, you think about all the things that happened right for me to be sitting here.”
When you think about the concept of a “bruised brain,” it’s inherently nerve-wracking. The growing understanding of concussions and CTE have made us aware that it’s vital to limit trauma of all kinds. To state the obvious, Newman’s crash was the exact opposite of “limiting trauma.”
This is further put into perspective when you hear his comments about his helmet. According to Yahoo!, it was surreal how damaged it was in comparison to his injury.
“If you saw a picture of my helmet,” Newman said, “you wouldn’t believe my head is still round.”
Further, Newman reiterated that his luck was unbelievable, and that anything can happen at any point.
“I know how lucky I was,” he says. “There were prayers involved. Guardian angels. But when it’s your time, it’s your time, and nobody has control of that watch. We do what we can to control things from a safety perspective, but the reality is, it could be your time as easily walking down the sidewalk tripping as flipping in a race car.”
A year on, and Newman is back. Sitting in the No. 7 spot on the grid for Sunday’s race, the 43-year-old is still looking for victory in one of NASCAR’s iconic traditions.