ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Ryan Newman’s frightening crash Sunday at Daytona International Speedway on the first lap of the Daytona 500 was the driver’s own fault.
Newman was in the wreck, a joint statement from NASCAR and No. 31 Newman-Haas Racing released Friday said. The accident forced Newman to the infield care center and sidelined him until at least Saturday.
“Ryan’s accident was entirely his own fault,” the statement said. “The incident occurred because his car tried to pass another vehicle into turn 1 on the first lap of the Daytona 500. Unfortunately, that vehicle moved up onto the track and brought Ryan’s car into contact with the outside wall. It was Ryan’s mistake for getting into contact with that other vehicle.”
Newman was hospitalized with injuries that were not considered life-threatening and he was cleared to fly home to Texas on a team charter Friday night.
“It’s all behind us now,” Newmans said. “I have a lot of praying to do. I want to thank all of the fans, everyone and especially everybody at the medical center. There was a lot of concern, a lot of prayers, and everybody worked together.”
A speedy test drive in Sprint Cup practice on Tuesday prompted Newman to test at the track before the Daytona 500.
Newman had participated in a practice session for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, a mere 16 laps in the Camping World Truck Series that was dry out of the constant rain earlier in the day at Daytona International Speedway.
"Honestly I just couldn't get it done fast enough," Newman said after the test on Tuesday, March 21, and more than two weeks before the start of the 2018 season in April.
But on Sunday, the rain turned into darkness and a slippery track that stretched more than half the length of the speedway became treacherous, and he crashed near the front of the pack.
The accident led to a 13-car wreck on the frontstretch of the track, which led to two lengthy yellow flags for "brake hiccup" issues for the drivers involved. NASCAR officials also had to caution race fans on the radio to stay away from the track to avoid any further danger.
“Ryan is out of the infield care center and returning home to Texas,” the statement from NASCAR and Newman-Haas Racing said. “There were no major injuries.
“There was no contact between Ryan and anyone else in the accident. Unfortunately, when Ryan’s car tried to get by a vehicle into turn 1, his car was struck by that vehicle and brought his car into contact with the outside wall. It was Ryan’s mistake for getting into contact with that other vehicle.”
Newman, 43, has 35 Sprint Cup wins and 220 regular-season wins in NASCAR’s top level. He moved to NASCAR in 2006.