NASCAR driver Ryan Newman walked out of hospital hand in hand with his two young daughters on Wednesday less than 48 hours after his 200mph Daytona 500 horror crash which left him serious injuries Monday night.
A smiling Newman had earlier posed in his hospital gown with his girls, with his team tweeting: ‘The veteran driver is fully alert and walking around Halifax Medical Center. True to his jovial nature, he has also been joking around with staff, friends and family while spending time playing with his two daughters.’
Newman was in the final lap of the Daytona 500, Roush Fenway Racing, when his car was hit, causing a fiery wreck. He had been hospitalized in Daytona Beach, Florida.
‘Ryan and his family have expressed their appreciation for the concern and heartfelt messages from across the country,’ Roush Fenway earlier tweeted. ‘They are grateful for the unwavering support of the NASCAR community and beyond.’
A new picture Wednesday showed Newman wearing socks, jeans and a t-shirt and holding the hands of his daughters as he left hospital.
Newman turned hard into the wall after getting bumped from behind by Ryan Blaney a few hundred feet from the finish line. Newman’s No. 6 Ford Mustang then flipped onto its roof, where he was helpless as he was walloped in the driver’s side by another car at 190 mph.
It sent his car spinning backwards and LaJoie, who was driving behind him, then crashed into the driver’s side of Newman’s vehicle.
Newman’s Mustang flipped multiple times and began spitting out flames. He was pulled from the wreckage in front of nervous crowds afterwards and was immediately rushed to the hospital.
President Trump tweeted on Monday night that he was ‘praying’ for the 42-year-old driver.
On Tuesday morning during an interview with Good Morning America, LaJoie said he it was ‘very scary’ what had happened.
‘He’s obviously in a serious condition because that’s probably the most vulnerable spot in our race cars that was a really scary wreck.
‘It was wild, I didn’t even know who I hit because you’re concentrating on trying to get a good finish and nobody knows how fast 200mph or how light or out of control these cars are.
‘I didn’t even know who I hit or what the extent of the crash was.
‘[It was a] very scary crash but the fact that he’s still with us and trying to make a full recovery is just testament to NASCAR and how safe they’re trying to make these race cars,’ he said.
‘He is in serious condition, but doctors have indicated his injuries are not life threatening.
‘We appreciate your thoughts and prayers and ask that you respect the privacy of Ryan and his family during this time.’
Newman has made complaints in the past about the safety of NASCAR’s tracks.
He’s been a harsh critic of NASCAR’s struggles to keep cars on the ground, even getting fined for public comments the sanctioning body considered negative.
In 2010, he said fans shouldn’t even go to the track to see races at Talladega.
The Indiana native, who graduated with an engineering degree from Purdue, said earlier during Speedweeks he felt renewed in his second year at Roush Fenway Racing.
‘It’s all about competitiveness and fun,’ he said. ‘I want to have fun with my life. If I can have fun in this garage doing it and get paid what I feel like I deserve to get paid, then I’m all for it. It’s got to be fun and it’s got be rewarding in more ways than one.
‘I’m doing it past when I said I was going to do it 10 years ago. I don’t know how to give the answer anymore, I really don’t. I always said 40 and I’m 42 now.’
On Monday night, after the wreck, Denny Hamlin went on to win the race in his No 11. Toyota Camry for the second consecutive season, prompting NASCAR owner Joe Gibbs to wildly celebrate at the finish line.
However, Gibbs has now apologized for gloating about the victory, saying he was unaware of how serious Newman’s accident actually was.
‘We really didn’t know, we got in the winner’s circle and that’s when people told us,’ he told assembled press later in the evening.
Meanwhile, Hamlin appeared somber following his victory, telling assembled press: ‘I think we take for granted sometimes how safe the cars are and number one, we are praying for Ryan’.
‘It’s a weird balance of excitement and happiness for yourself, but someone’s health and their family is bigger than any win in any sport. We are just hoping for the best.’
Other drivers were also stricken with concern in the aftermath of the smash, including a rattled Corey LaJoie – the driver who hit Newman’s car as it was flipping.
‘Dang I hope Newman is ok,’ he posted on Twitter. ‘That is worst case scenario and I had nowhere to go but (into) smoke.’
It wasn’t the first crash like this for Newman at Daytona or at another superspeedway, the Talladega track in Alabama. His car went airborne and flipped repeatedly in the 2003 Daytona 500. He landed on his roof in that one and did again at Talladega in 2009.
Newman also announced last week he and his wife had split after 16 years of marriage.
‘I feel just renewed in general, the team, the people, the opportunities, the sponsors,’ he said.
‘All that makes a big difference to me. We’ve got to perform better.
‘Just because we performed better than they had done in the past doesn’t mean it’s up to my standards and my goals.
‘I feel like we need to step it up and that’s a big part of me wanting to continue doing what I’m doing.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Lauren Fruen, Leah Simpson and Jennifer Smith