February 24, 2013

Airborne car hits fence at Daytona; at least 33 hurt

Coming upon a 13-car crash, Kyle Larson’s NASCAR vehicle sails into the grandstand – and debris flies. No deaths are reported.

The Associated Press

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Kyle Larson (32) goes airborne and into the catch fence during a multicar crash involving Justin Allgaier (31), Brian Scott (2) and others during the final lap of the NASCAR Nationwide Series auto race Saturday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. The crash sent car parts and other debris flying into the stands, injuring spectators.

The Associated Press

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Kyle Larson's car goes airborne during a multicar wreck on the final lap of the NASCAR Nationwide Series race Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. Tony Stewart, front, avoided the crash and won the race.

The Associated Press

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Still, NASCAR senior vice president Steve O'Donnell said it would be studied.

"I think we look at this after every incident," O'Donnell said. "We've learned in the past certain protocols put in 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."

Larson had been scheduled to race his sprint car later Saturday night in Ocala, Fla., and even seemed restless to get there during the late stages of the Nationwide race. He pulled out of the event following the accident.

"Honestly, the race itself pales in comparison to the injuries sustained by the fans," said Chip Ganassi, the team owner who has Larson in his driver development program. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the fans that were injured as a result of the crash. As for Kyle, I am very happy that he is OK."

Keselowski watched a replay of the final accident, and said his first thoughts were with the fans. As for the accident, he agreed he tried to make a winning move and Smith tried to block.

"He felt like that's what he had to do, and that's his right. The chaos comes with it," Keselowski said. "I made the move and he blocked it, and the two of us got together and started the chain events that caused that wreck. First and foremost, just want to make sure everyone in the stands is OK and we're thinking about them."

Keselowski said the incident could cast a pall on the Daytona 500.

"I think until we know exactly the statuses of everyone involved, it's hard to lock yourself into the 500," Keselowski said. "Hopefully, we'll know soon and hopefully everyone's OK. And if that's the case, we'll staring focusing on Sunday."

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