Roughly 12 people were injured after NASCAR driver Kyle Larson (32) and his Chevrolet ended up in the fence during the final lap crash during the NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300 race at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Saturday. (Photo : Reuters)
A massive crash at Saturday's Drive4COPD 300 race at Daytona, Fla., led to 12 people being injured after NASCAR driver Kyle Larson's car drove through the catch fence of the Daytona International Speedway.
According to Reuters, a hospital official at Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Fla., reported that several spectators were treated in the emergency room, with at least two of them in critical condition.
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Four of the fans were also on trauma alert and others were being treated as non-trauma cases.
The crash occurred when Larson's Chevrolet went into the air through the catchfence separating the fans from the race after race leader Regan Smith tried to block a move by Brad Keselowski off Turn 4 in the race. The move triggered a crash that ensnared Larson's vehicle and propelled him through the fence.
Afterwards, NASCAR president Mike Helton said that all fans who were involved in the accident were taken to care centers and some were moved to nearby Halifax. As for the drivers involved, NASCAR confirmed all drivers in the crash were treated and released.
''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,'' Helton said according to the Boston Globe. ''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.''
Larson, who wasn't seriously injured, described the moments leading up to the crash.
''I was getting pushed from behind, I felt like, and by the time my spotter said lift or go low, it was too late,'' Larson said. ''I was in the wreck and then felt like it was slowing down and I looked like I could see the ground. Had some flames come in the cockpit, but luckily I was all right and could get out of the car quick.''
Larson added that he hoped that the drivers and the fans were alright.
"The damn car went through the fence. It shattered everywhere," Travis Smith, a spectator watching in the main grandstands with his family, told USA Today of the crash. "Tires went flying everywhere. Hit a bunch of people."
Three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart ended up winning the race--his 19th win at Daytona and seventh in he last nine Nationwide season-opening races--but the racecar star could take little joy in his victory as he was more concerned about the injured people in the accident.
''The important thing is what going on on the frontstretch right now,'' Stewart said. ''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.
Danica Patrick, who pulled out of the race after her car malfunctioned in mid-race, sent a Twitter message giving her thoughts on the crash.
"Hope and pray all the fans are ok after that big accident today," she tweeted.
Speaking after the crash, Smith explained his side of what happened.
''I tried to throw a block, it's Daytona, you want to go for the win here,'' Smith told the Boston Globe. ''I don't know how you can play it any different other than concede second place, and I wasn't willing to do that today. Our job is to put them in position to win, and it was, and it didn't work out.''