The Nationwide Series’ DRIVE4COPD 400 at Daytona International Superspeedway ended with a terrible crash at the start finish line, which sent rookie Kyle Larson’s #32 Chevrolet into the catch fence surrounding the track and led to several of the parts off of the Turner Motorsports car, including the engine, being left behind in the stands.
The crash began when leader Regan Smith was turned trying to defend his position from Brad Keselowski, which sent Smith into the crowded pack of cars that were immediately behind him. When it was all said and done seventeen fans were injured in the crash with two fans suffering “major injuries” according to Sergeant John Creamer of the Daytona Beach Police. Driver Michael Annett was taken to a local hospital after the crash but does not have what is considered to be serious injuries.
Although Tony Stewart was able to avoid the crash and recorded his seventh Nationwide Series win at the season-opener in the past nine seasons, the three-time Sprint Cup champion spoke solemnly in his interview in Victory Lane, stating that “The important thing is what going on on the front-stretch right now,” said Stewart, the three-time NASCAR champion. “We’ve always known, and since racing started, this is a dangerous sport. But it’s hard. We assume that risk, but it’s hard when the fans get caught up in it.”
NASCAR has made plenty of advancements in safety in the last decade following major concerns to both driver and fan safety, but the amount of leeway that the sport has with adjusting the fencing around the track seems to be very little from the outside looking in. It will be interesting to see if NASCAR officials opt to try and find stronger fencing or possibly move back the closest grandstand seats, which may be unpopular but ultimately may save a significant number of lives.
Video of the crash can be viewed below: