DAYTONA BEACH, Fl - Sunday's Daytona 500 will go on as planned, according to race organizers. That after at least 30 fans were injured Saturday at Daytona International Raceway following a crash on the final lap of the NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
Speedway President Joie Chitwood said the track will "be ready to go racing" in time for Sunday's 'Great American Race'.
The crash sent one car tumbling into the fence which separates the track from the seats. Large chunks of the car, including a tire, landed in the grandstands and onto fans. The race car's entire front end was sheared off in the wreck. A piece of the car's burning engine was wedged through a gaping hole in the fence.
"There obviously was some intrusion into the fence and fortunately with the way the event's equipped up, there were plenty of emergency workers ready to go and they all jumped in on it pretty quickly," said NASCAR President Mike Helton. "Right now, it's just a function of determining what all damage is done. They're moving folks, as we've seen, to care centers and take some folks over to Halifax Medical."
Tony Stewart won the race. Tomorrow officially kicks off the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, with the 'Great American Race', the Daytona 500.
"The important thing is what going on on the frontstretch 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.
"So as much as we want to celebrate right now and as much as this is a big deal to us, I'm more worried about the drivers and the fans that are in the stands right now because that was ... I could see it all in my mirror, and it didn't look good from where I was at."
The accident spread into the upper deck and emergency crews treated fans on both levels. There were five stretchers that appeared to be carrying fans out, and a helicopter flew overhead. A forklift was used to pluck the car's engine out of the fence, and there appeared to be a tire in the stands.
The driver of the car, rookie Kyle Larson, was not injured in the crash.