Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, met with the media Saturday morning in Las Vegas to discuss the chronological timeline of the emergency response to Ryan Newman’s last-lap accident in the Daytona 500. He was joined by Dr. John Patalak, senior director of safety engineering, and John Bobo, NASCAR vice president of racing operations.
NASCAR is still reviewing the accident, and in addition to the need to abide by HIPAA privacy laws that protect individuals’ medical records and other personal health information, O’Donnell would not talk about medical responses that would disclose Newman’s medical information.
Newman first hit the outside wall in the tri-oval and went airborne. He was then hit by Corey LaJoie and sent back into the air. When Newman’s car landed, it skidded down the frontstretch on its side before coming to rest past the exit of pit road near Turn 1.
- The first truck arrived at the vehicle 19 seconds after it came to rest. The fireman with the extinguisher was in that vehicle.
- One of the three trauma doctors assigned to the safety team for the race arrived at the car at the 33-second mark and a paramedic entered the vehicle at the 35-second mark.
- For the next three-and-a-half minutes doctors and paramedics attended to Newman, and at the 4:05 mark, the decision was made to roll the car over while they continued to aid Newman.
- At the 6:56 mark, the car was upright, and the extraction team began cutting the vehicle as a doctor continued to provide treatment to Newman.
- The roof was removed at the 11:10 mark and the extraction was completed at 15:40. Newman was then moved to the ambulance for transport to Halifax Medical Center.
O’Donnell stated that aside from the moment when the car was rolled over, doctors and paramedics were attending to Newman.
“Working in unison and performing their respective jobs, the first responders performed their jobs as they were trained,” said O’Donnell. “The training systems, the safety systems, all worked as were designed. But again, we’re never satisfied with what took place, and we’ll learn as much as possible and implement those changes, if there are any, as soon as we can.”
NASCAR begins its crash investigation at the racetrack. When a car is towed or driven back into the garage, NASCAR safety officials go to that car to begin the investigation.
“That typically starts with pictures being taken around the exterior of the vehicle and then also moving to the interior,” said Patalak. “Looking at the driver restraint system, removing the IDR, which is our incident data recorder, and the high-speed camera (used in the Cup Series).”
Officials are also working with Roush Fenway Racing and outside experts.
NASCAR took Newman and LaJoie’s cars back to its R&D Center for further investigation, which began Tuesday. Among the many sources of data officials are pulling from are will also be the ECU, telemetry from the cars, and broadcast along with non-broadcast video. All sources of information will be synced together to create a full picture of what happened as the crash unfolded.
“One of the reasons you won’t hear as many details today, we still haven’t had the chance to go through this with Ryan and his team, with the other drivers in the garage,” said O’Donnell. “Ryan’s feedback, as we go through this, will be key, and I think that will be a key component as it’s always been throughout the process when he’s been racing.”
Newman has an engineering degree from Purdue University. He has had dialogue and feedback with NASCAR after previous accidents.
Roush Fenway has stated there is no timeline on Newman’s return. Bobo clarified Newman would have to be cleared by his medical team.
Asked if there would be any changes to the rules package in hopes of preventing cars from going airborne at Daytona and Talladega, O’Donnell said, “It’s still early as we look through this. But we’re going to look at everything and anything in terms of the speeds, the liftoff. You’ve heard me say many times before we never want a car to get airborne, so we’ll look at how that occurred around the speeds. We’ll look at the racing procedures we have in place as well.
“All of those will be on the table as we look to head into Talladega and if we need to make adjustments around the aero balance and speeds as relates to safety, we’ll do that.”