Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin drove his No. 11 Toyota Camry NASCAR to victory at the Daytona 500 once again Monday night, marking his second consecutive win at the Great American Race and his third in five years. He narrowly out-hustled Team Penske's Ryan Blaney to the finish line, making it the second-closest result in Daytona 500 history. Unfortunately, this all happened seconds after race leader Ryan Newman suffered a violent wreck that sent the veteran racer to the hospital in serious condition.
Hamlin's win came in overtime as caution periods pushed the race past its scheduled 500-mile distance and one day after heavy rain forced officials to postpone the finale. With the FedEx-sponsored Toyota in front once the white flag waved, all bets were off as he and the entire front of the pack could taste victory. Hamlin, Newman, and Blaney all jockeyed for position with Newman pulling into the lead through the final turn.
But just before the checkered flag fell, Blaney made contact with Newman's rear bumper as he tried to shoot low for a last-second pass, sending the No. 6 Ford Mustang spinning into the wall and flipping into the air. As it landed in the top lane of traffic, it appeared to be struck on the driver's side door by the No. 32 Ford of Cory LaJoie at full speed. The crumpled car was once again launched into the air before landing on its side and leaving a trail of sparks and spilled fuel as it slid across the finish and came to a stop.
WARNING: The following videos show Newman's crash and may be disturbing to watch. Discretion is advised
Newman was taken by ambulance to Halifax Hospital in Daytona, where he's in serious condition; thankfully, doctors don't believe his injuries are life-threatening.
"We appreciate your thoughts and prayers and ask that you respect the privacy of Ryan and his family during this time. We appreciate your patience and cooperation and we will provide more information as it becomes available," the statement from NASCAR reads.
Hamlin received his trophy in Victory Lane, though the celebration was cut short by news of Newman's incident. He and team owner Joe Gibbs respectably issued apologies afterward, explaining they weren't aware of the crash's severity.
“The finish, the history, that’s all great. One day it will all sink in. But right now all I’m thinking about is Ryan Newman,” Hamlin told ESPN.