Now that Ryan Newman has been released from the hospital following his crash in the Daytona 500, and his condition is said to be improving, his fellow competitors are back to giving him grief.
“I shot him a text,” said Austin Dillon on Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “I said, ‘I’ve never been so glad to see a picture of you.'”
Dillon and Newman were teammates from 2014-18 at Richard Childress Racing before Newman took over the No. 6 Ford at Roush Fenway Racing. Following a scary last-lap crash in the Daytona 500 on Monday night, after which he was transported directly to the hospital from his car, Newman walked out of Halifax Medical Center on Wednesday afternoon.
The extent of Newman’s injuries is still not known. Ross Chastain will drive the No. 6 car beginning this weekend.
“I’m going to call him probably this week,” continued Dillon. “I’m sure he’s been super busy. Luke Lambert, his crew chief, I saw him getting on the plane and Luke told me that he had talked to him. He said he’s the same ol’ Ryan, he’s good to go. He’s being his normal self when he’s talking.”
Joey Logano said he and Newman have a running joke they continually throw back and forth at each other. As soon as Logano reached out to Newman, the joke was back on.
“I texted him and said, ‘I know it wasn’t your neck that broke. I don’t think you could do that,'” said Logano. “We have a neck joke going back and forth because I’ve got a long one and he’s got none. We had a good joke about that, at least, so his sense of humor still seems to be there.”
Neither Dillon, Logano, or Kyle Busch has seen Newman’s car in person to speak to whether additional safety measures are needed. But Dillon and Logano made mention of the safety advancements NASCAR has made through the years, with Logano even noting that the Next Gen car “in some of those areas where the impact seems to be — from at least my non-engineering degree perspective — like it should be stronger in that spot.”
“I’m glad to see that NASCAR is already looking, even before this, in that area, and I look forward to getting in that car and have something even safer to drive,” continued Logano.
Dillon has experienced an airborne crash at Daytona too. In the July 2015 race, Dillon hit the spinning Denny Hamlin coming to the checkered flag, went airborne, and his car, while still airborne and turning over, crashed into the catch fence. Dillon was helped from his upside-down car and waved to the crowd.
“For me, I would go a while without wrecking, and every now and again, it was a good thing when you wrecked because you’re like, ‘All right, it’s not that bad,'” said Dillon. “You get back in, and you have more confidence the next time you’re back in the car. When you have one like (Newman’s), it might take easing into it a little bit. We’re race car drivers; he’s wrecked probably as hard or harder in a midget in his lifetime, I’m sure. It’s just part of what we do.
“We put ourselves in that situation knowing what we’re getting ourselves into. I know that when I went to Kentucky the next week (after his crash), I just got in there and ran. I wasn’t sore; I was ready. The only thing I had done during the week was talk more about it. It’s part of what we do as race car drivers, and I think that’s why people come watch us. We do put our lives on the line for this stuff. It’s engaging for the fans to see. It’s dangerous, and that’s part of it; it’s part of the sport.”
Busch suffered a compound break of his right leg and a fracture of his left foot in an Xfinity Series race at Daytona in February 2015. He was back in the car by early May in the All-Star Race. But Busch admitted it was hard to climb back behind the wheel.
“Having the injuries that I had and being in the hospital and being laid up in a hospital bed for a few weeks was challenging in that respect,” said Busch. “Then getting back in the car for me, I don’t know if you’re asking if I have a different sense of fear or am I scared or what all is going on there. You certainly have some of that in the back of your mind to start with and to get back in. ‘Man, if I get back in and crash right away, is that going to end it all over again?'”
Busch said you put that in the back of your mind as much as possible. He went on to win in his fifth race back and then capture the championship.
As for Newman, while the garage has been relieved to hear about his condition and to be able to talk to him, Roush Fenway Racing has said there is no timeline for his return.