SI.com 2003 Daytona 500 2003 Daytona 500


Ride of his life

Newman walks away unhurt after car flips on frontstretch

Posted: Sunday February 16, 2003 2:48 PM
  Ryan Newman Ryan Newman tumbled down the frontstretch after colliding with Ken Schrader. AP

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Ryan Newman crawled out of his side window unharmed after a crash that sent his car flipping through the infield grass early in the Daytona 500.

"We went for a heck of a ride," he said. "I was just hanging on."

Newman's right rear wheel came off the No. 12 Dodge on Sunday. The car crumpled into pieces when it was clipped by Ken Schrader, rolled 3 1/2 times and landed on its roof in the grass.

After safety workers reached the car, Newman climbed from his window and waved several times to the cheering crowd.

"I've still got dirt in my teeth and I had a wad of sod in my lap," said Newman, the 2002 rookie of the year. " Disney World doesn't have anything like this."

Newman was treated in the infield care center, where crew chief Matt Borland sprinted to meet him. He was later joined by his father before riding a golf cart to his motor home.

"My feelings are hurt, and I'll be sore tomorrow," Newman said. "The good thing is I'm all in one piece."

The entire rear axle assembly was torn off the car. NASCAR officials took the unusual step of impounding the Dodge in a fenced-in area with blue tarps obstructing any view.

"There were no wheels on it. We wanted to get a good look at it and try to figure out what happened," said Gary Nelson, NASCAR's director of competition. "It's not really supposed to come apart like that."

Newman and Borland examined the car in the compound until it was released to them to take back to North Carolina.

Under an aerodynamic package used at restrictor-plate race tracks, the cars aren't technically supposed to fly through the air they way Newman's did. At first inspection, Nelson thought air got swept into the wheel well once the tires were knocked off, lifting the car off the track.

"The car was almost like a parachute," Nelson said. "The roof flaps never got a chance to work."

Borland, though, thought momentum caused the car to come off the ground.

"It's not supposed to lift like that," he said. "I think when it got in the grass and the dirt got kicked up, it took off. We were glad the car began to come apart because that meant the energy was leaving and Ryan was better off."


 
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