The Commercial-News, Danville, IL


February 23, 2013

Crash brings up the risks

DAYTONA, Fla. — DAYTONA, Fla. — NASCAR drivers understand and accept the risks of racing at more than 175 miles per hour.

On Saturday afternoon, a group of fans at the Daytona International Speedway became the victims in a 12-car accident on the final lap of the Drive4COPD 300 Nationwide Series race.

Indiana native Tony Stewart avoided the final lap melee to claim the victory, his 19th at Daytona and his seventh in the last nine Nationwide series-opening events, but he didn’t celebrate the win in a normal matter because of the situation in the front-stretch grandstands.

“The important thing is what’s going on on the front stretch right now,” said Stewart in victory lane. “We’ve always known since racing was started this is a dangerous sport. But it’s hard. We assume that risk. It’s hard when the fans get caught up in it.

“As much as we want to celebrate right now, as much as this is a big deal to us, I’m more worried about the drivers and the fans in the stands right now. I could see it all in the mirror and it didn’t look good from where I was either.”

The last-lap accident sent rookie Kyle Larson’s car sailing into the fence that separates the track from the grandstands and a large parts of the car, including what appeared to be a tire, landed in the stands.

In all more than 30 fans were injured, with 14 being treated at the Daytona International Speedway care facility while another 14 were transported to local hospitals according to Speedway President Joie Chitwood III.

“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.”

This isn’t the first, and unfortunately, will not be the last situation where fans at a motor sports event will endure one of the worst situations known in sports.

In the history of auto racing there are numerous situations where fans have been injured, or even worst, lost their lives while attending an event that is supposed to be their entertainment.

How can that happen?

No matter how many safety devices that are developed from catch fencing to safer barriers to restrictor plates to keep the cars from going faster than 200 miles per hour, the unknown of man and machine is what drives most of these spectators to attend the Daytona International Speedway.

And according to NASCAR senior vice president Steve O’Donnell, the sanctioning body will continue to look for new ways to make things safer for the fans.

“As with any of incident, we will conduct a thorough review, we will work closely with the track and learn what we can, and see what we can apply in the future,” said NASCAR senior vice president Steve O’Donnell. “We’ve learned in the past certain protocols put into place today are a result of prior incidents. Again, our initial evaluation is still ongoing. But it’s certainly something we’ll look at. If we can improve upon it, we’ll certainly put that in play as soon as we can.”

Many families plan their trips around the opportunity to attend a motor sports event like the Daytona 500 or even the Indianapolis 500 in May. And that’s what makes a tragedy like the one that happened on Saturday the worst possible situation for everyone involved.

The car that flew into the fencing was driven by 20-year old NASCAR driver Kyle Larson, who was making his Daytona debut this week. When it finally came to rest, there was very little left of his Chevrolet.

“I hope all the fans are OK,” Larson said. “I took a couple big hits there and saw my engine was gone. I just hope everybody is all right.”

And there was nothing the young driver could do in that last-lap situation.

“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. I had some flames come in the cockpit, but luckily I was all right and could get out of the car quickly.”

While multiple fans recover from their injuries sustained on Saturday, the Daytona International Speedway spent all night repairing the fencing in front of the grandstand.

“We don’t anticipate moving any of our fans,” Chitwood said. “We had our safety protocols in place. Our security maintained a buffer that separates the fans from the fencing area. With the fencing being prepared tonight to our safety protocols, we expect to go racing tomorrow with no changes.”

The final event of Speedweeks is today’s Daytona 500, scheduled to begin at 1:15 p.m. (EASTERN).

Here’s hoping for a safe and fast race for drivers, crews and of course, the fans.

Text Only
  • NASCAR Brickyard 400 Auto Racing [Duplicate] Harvick sets the pace at Indy INDIANAPOLIS — Growing up in Bakersfield, Calif., IndyCar driver Rick Mears was the childhood hero for Kevin Harvick.Mears is one of three men to have won four Indianapolis 500s and he has won a career-best six poles for the “Greatest Spectacle in Ra

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT- CN0727 - Dustbowl photo 1 Click Clak Tre wins consolation championship DANVILLE — Saturday’s Dustbowl action at the David S. Palmer Arena had a full day of action ending with the Men’s Division Consolation Championship Game. The Consolation Championship was played between Rantoul’s Mon Stars (Rantoul) and Click Clak Tre

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • No Headline Provided DANVILLE — Adult action started at the Greater Danville Tennis Open on Saturday with one title decided. Stacy Wells won the women's open singles division with a 6-2, 1-6, 6-2 win over Katie Larck. The rest of the action was mostly semifinal play. IN

    July 27, 2014

  • Dans photo 27.jpg Dans get past Cavemen

    Shumaker hits a home run with two RBIs as Danville defeats Hannibal after delay

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT- CN0726 - Dans photo 1 Dans make most of second chance DANVILLE — Baseball can be a funny game, and as often is the case, a player can be the goat one minute, and the hero the next.Trevor Rucker blooped a shot down the right field line that caromed off the glove of Hannibal second baseman Jeff Smith to d

    July 26, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT- CN0725 - Dustbowl photo 2 Stars advance to boys final DANVILLE — The 42nd Annual Dustbowl action continued Thursday at David S. Palmer Arena with the High School Boys basketball division in full swing as four games were played and all eight teams participated. In game one of the winner’s bracket of sem

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - CN0725 - Atwood photo Baseball community to honor Atwood DANVILLE — Whether it was working on the field or running a tournament, there wasn’t anything that Frank Atwood wouldn’t do for the game of baseball.His love for the game created numerous opportunities for the youth of the Danville area as Atwood ser

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dans get a split of doubleheader with Cavemen HANNIBAL, Mo. — The Danville Dans won the first game of a doubleheader with the Hannibal Cavemen 3-1 on Thursday before losing the second game 5-3 to get a split.In the first game, Corbin Olmstead pitched seven innings with eight strikeouts to get th

    July 25, 2014

  • Danville Post 210 Speakers fall to Rantoul CHARLESTON — Playing five games in five days finally took its toll on the Danville Post 210 Speakers.Rantoul’s Tanner McLain delivered a game-winning, two-out single to left to give his team a 6-5 victory over Danville in an elimination game of the F

    July 24, 2014

  • Juniors continue to play at Danville Tennis Open DANVILLE — The juniors were still on the court in the Greater Danville Tennis Open on Wednesday as three division titles were given out.Rachael Lewis won the girls 18 and under singles title with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Lauren Ellis, while the team of Er

    July 24, 2014

NJCAA Tourney Photos 2014

Check out the action at the NJCAA Division II National Men's Basketball Tournament March 18-22 at DACC. Buy photos from the Commercial-News here:

Must Read
AP Video
Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground
NDN Video
GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1" Trailer is Here! Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years