Daytona Speedway officials to review crash, safety fencing
Eddie Huckaby, a fan cut by flying metal during the crash at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night, watched Sunday's Daytona 500 from his hospital room.
"He's doing fine," said his brother, Terry Huckaby.
Eddie Huckaby was injured when Kyle Larson's car slammed into the wall as cars roared to the finish line of the NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300. The car "exploded," spraying a car tire, debris and automotive fluids over and through a 22-foot grandstand fence into the crowd of fans. Fans said the engine landed on a walkway in flames.
Huckaby was among at least 28 fans injured. Seven remained hospitalized on Sunday at Halifax Health Medical Center.
All of the patients were in stable condition, said hospital spokesman Byron Cogdell. Two of those patients – one minor and one adult – suffered critical injuries on Saturday.
Speedway President Joie Chitwood and Steve O'Donnell, senior vice president of racing for NASCAR, said Sunday it was too early to speculate about how the fence performed or whether any additional safety steps need to be taken.
"If there are ways to improve . . . we will," Chitwood said.
After a 2009 Carl Edwards' crash at Talladega Superspeedway, Chitwood said the Speedway brought in an expert to conduct a full safety review and then installed new fencing before the 2010 racing season.
"Anything we can learn will be put in place," O'Donnell said. "Obviously we want everybody to be safe at an event."
A driver injured in an earlier crash on Saturday, Michael Annett, was released from Halifax after an overnight stay and returned to his home in North Carolina, officials said.
Speedway crews worked all night Saturday, finishing fence repairs by 2 a.m. and assisting injured fans in reuniting with their families and friends and returning to their lodging.
"I want to reiterate how important our fans are to us," Chitwood said Sunday morning. "Some of the patients released late last night and early this morning will be coming back and we're going to make sure we will have some good accommodations for those fans that are returning."
Deltona residents Steve and Rita Carlson returned to their seats for the 500 on Sunday morning, right beside where a man suffered a cut to his leg from shards of metal on Saturday. Steve Carlson ran for help while his wife tried to comfort the man.
"No one expected something like this to happen," Rita Carlson said Sunday. "Shrapnel was falling everywhere around us, but for some reason we didn't get hit."
Fans flocked to the crash site before the 500, taking photos where the fence had been repaired.
Also returning for the 500 were Pennsylvania fans Terry and Derrick Spencer. Derrick, 15, was cut in the face by flying metal Saturday night, said Terry Spencer, who took his younger brother to the hospital where he received three stitches.
The 500 was "really fun," said Derrick Spencer. But, he added: "I don't think I want to sit lower down anymore. I want to sit up high from now on."
Several drivers voiced concern for the injured fans after the 500.
"It was sad to see some of our fans get injured," said driver Mark Martin.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he hoped those who couldn't attend Sunday would recover quickly and return to racing. "We welcome them back," he said. Daytona Beach news Journal