Ryan Newman is in serious condition with life-threatening injuries after a fiery crash that left Daytona 500 spectators wondering whether the event had suffered its first fatality since 2001. The 42-year-old driver was less than 100 yards from the finish line on the final lap Monday when he was bumped by Ryan Blaney's car, the New York Times reports. Newman's car flipped before it was rammed by Corey LaJoie's vehicle and slid across the finish line in flames. After they turned the car on its side, track emergency removed Newman from the vehicle and he was rushed to the nearby Halifax Medical Center, but it was two hours before his team, Roush Fenway Racing, announced that he had not been fatally injured.
"Safety's come a long way in this sport, but sometimes we are reminded that it is a very dangerous sport," said Fox analyst Jeff Gordon, a four-time Cup Series champion. LaJoie said he had no way to avoid hitting Newman's car. "That is the worst-case scenario," he said. "I had nowhere to go but into smoke." Denny Hamlin won the race after bypassing the wreck, but he later apologized for celebrating, ESPN reports. He offered well wishes and prayers to "Rocketman," tweeting: "I had absolutely NO IDEA of the severity of the crash until I got to victory lane. There’s very little communication after the finish and i had already unhooked my radio." (Read more Daytona 500 stories.)