Fans injured when #3 goes airborne, but OK

Austin Dillon destroys catch fence
Austin Dillon destroys catch fence
Brian Schmitz photo

A huge crash as cars crossed the finish line early Monday morning in the Coke Zero 400 sent Austin Dillon's #3 car airborne and tore down part of the catch fence, injuring several fans, one of whom was briefly hospitalized. Dillon's torn car, with its engine already resting on another part of the racetrack, ended up on its roof and then was smashed into by Brad Keselowski's #2 car. One fan was sent to a local hospital in stable condition, then treated and released. Daytona president Joie Chitwood said 12 other people were assessed after the accident – four were treated and released by track medics, and eight declined treatment. Officials with the track and NASCAR said they will evaluate the performance of the catch fence. NASCAR also has taken Dillon's car for a post-accident evaluation, a common procedure after a major accident. Chitwood said that the new Daytona grandstands cause people to take escalators up to the middle level and walk to the lower-level seats, which eliminates fans from trying to walk next to the fence during a race. He said the fence did its job.

Crew members from various racing teams – including Earnhardt's – immediately ran out to the wreckage to check on Dillon's condition and gave a collective thumbs-up to let everybody know that he was OK. After a few moments, Dillon got out of his car and waved to the crowd. He later said he sustained a bruised tailbone and forearm. The wreck started after #11-Denny Hamlin and #4-Kevin Harvick made contact as they crossed the finish line behind race winner #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., who seemed speechless as he crossed the finish line. Hamlin said the wreck started when Harvick gave him a push, a common maneuver at Daytona, and lifted his rear wheels off the ground. "Just snagged him and turned him as he was in the middle of the track," Harvick said. "I hate that all happened, but just at the end of the race, it becomes pretty aggressive." ESPN.com/AP

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