Playing the Field: NASCAR crash injures 28 spectators

Kyle Larson (32) flies into the catch fence at the end of Saturday's race. Credit: Getty Images
Kyle Larson (32) flies into the catch fence at the end of Saturday’s race.
Credit: Getty Images

Sometimes what we write about here in Playing the Field is funny or crazy. But Saturday’s final lap of the Nationwide series (essentially NASCAR’s top minor league) race at Daytona was just downright scary.

On the final lap of the DRIVE4COPD 300 Saturday afternoon rookie Kyle Larson’s car was catapulted into the catch fence, losing the front end, and spraying debris (including a tire) into the grandstand.

Regan Smith was leading as the race entered the final stretch and tried to block last year’s Sprint Cup title winner Brad Keselowski from taking the lead. As is often the case when a driver goes for the block, he gets spun into the fence. Larson was unlucky enough to be caught up from behind and spun into the fence. (Tony Stewart won the race, but very respectfully said he was more worried about the fans while in victory lane.)

There were a reported 28 fans who were injured in the accident, with 12 being taken to the hospital. Thankfully only two were injured seriously and both are in stable condition with non-life-threatening injuries. None of the drivers involved were injured.

You can take a look at the ugliness here:

And yes, the ESPN hosts just opened with a nonsensical line about Danica Patrick.

A NASCAR crash is nothing new, but you don’t usually see the damage spread to the spectators to the extent it did yesterday. It also is a whole new era where fans can capture everything from their seats, including this ugly wreck. NASCAR yanked down a bunch of videos from YouTube, including this one shot by a fan:

The craziest part isn’t the guy in the gray T-shirt to the left who misses the accident entirely, it the TIRE IN THE STANDS! By the way, one of those tires weighs about 50 pounds and flew off a car going nearly 200 mph. Insane.

For the record, as someone who grew up watching auto racing, this wasn’t nearly the worst crash I’ve ever seen at Daytona involving a car (or technically, in this case a truck) flying into the grandstands. I was watching Geoff Bodine in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck series race live on TV back in 2000 when his truck flew into the catch fence and exploded. I thought for sure Bodine was dead. Somehow he managed to survive with just some broken bones.

This video isn’t for the feint of heart, but thankfully no one was seriously injured in the crowd or on the track.

And that is your yearly installment of “don’t go to a NASCAR race if you want to live.”

Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports. Just doing this post made him legitimately very anxious.


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