28 Fans, Driver Injured in Daytona Crash on Final Lap of Nationwide Race [Video]

A pile-up at the Daytona speedway injured at least 28 fans on Saturday.

With the start of the Daytona 500 just hours away, race officials are still doing all the necessary cleanings and are trying to amid growing questions about fan safety, Reuters reports.

At least 28 Daytona’s fans were hurt after a 10-car crash sent car debris, including a tire, flying into the crowd in the final lap of the Nationwide NASCAR race.

According to NASCAR officials, 14 fans injured in the incident were sent to local hospitals and another 14 were treated at the track, which will host the prestigious Daytona 500 race on Sunday.

“Stuff was flying everywhere,” said one of the eyewitnesses, Terry Huckaby, whose brother was sent to the hospital with a leg injury. “Tires were flying by and smoke and everything else.”

Among the hurt were a 14-year-old boy who was later taken to hospital in critical but stable condition, and a man who was in surgery for a life-threatening head injury.

However, Joie Chitwood, president of the Daytona International Speedway, confirmed that Sunday’s main race would go ahead despite the wreck as the track and the grandstand were being repared.

“First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with our race fans,” Chitwood said. “Following the incident, we responded appropriately according to our safety protocols and had emergency medical personnel at the incident immediately.”

The terrible crash happened after driver Regan Smith, who was leading the race, tried to block another driver as they were nearing the checkered flag and hit the other car, The Huffington Post writes.

“My fault,” Smith, who finished 14th, admitted later. “I threw a block. I’ll take the blame for it. But when you see the checkered flag at Daytona, you’re going to block, and you’re going to do everything you can to be the first car back to the stripe. It just didn’t work out today. Just hoping everything is okay, everyone who was in the wreck and all the fans.”

After the crash driver Kyle Larson’s car was sent airborne and ripped out its engine, although he climbed out of the wreckage afterward unhurt.

“I was getting pushed from behind, it felt like,” Larson said. “By the time my spotter said, ‘Lift,’ or to go low, I believe, it was too late and I was in the wreck. Then I felt like it was slowing down, and it looked like I could see the ground, and had some flames in the cockpit. Luckily, I was all right and could get out of the car quick.”

NASCAR’s vice president of race operations, Steve O’Donnell, revealed to reporters that the fencing, which was ripped through by the flying debris, was being replaced and the incident would be later reviewed.

“We’re very confident that we’ll be ready for tomorrow’s event with the 55th running of the Daytona, but as with any of these incidents, we’ll conduct a thorough review, we’ll work closely with the tracks as we do for all our events, learn what we can and see what we can apply in the future,” O’Donnell said.

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