NASCAR racer Austin Dillon was lucky to walk away with only bruises after a terrifying crash at the Coke Zero 400 that injured several fans. Dillon’s No. 3 car flipped into the air and onto the catchfence at Turn 1 during the final laps of the race at the Daytona International Speedway. The wreck effectively tore down the catchfence, horrifying observers and leaving them fearing the worse. The engine was completely detached from the car and sitting in the infield.
The crash occurred as the racers were jockeying for position in the final legs of the race. After being helped from the vehicle by safety personnel, Dillon waved to the crowd to show them that he was okay. Five fans were treated for non-life-threatening injuries after the crash. Dale Earnhardt Jr. ultimately emerged as the winner of the race.
Dillon spoke to the press after the accident and commented on how reducing drivers’ speed could help keep the racecars from flying into the air in wrecks such as his. In the interview, he said, “We’ve got to figure out something. Our speeds are too high, I think. I think everybody could get good racing at lower speeds.”
Many believe that the higher speeds and spectacular accidents created by this dangerous form of NASCAR racing are endangering both spectators and drivers. There have been several serious crashes at NASCAR events recently. Last week, the car being driven by Ryan Briscoe tumbled down the track during the last lap of a race at the Auto Club Speedway. Racing conditions were blamed for the accident.
Fellow racer Ryan Newman commented that crashes such as Dillon’s were part of the business and exactly what NASCAR wants in a race. In comments to USA Today, Newman said, “NASCAR got what they wanted. That’s the end of it. Cars getting airborne, unsafe drivers, same old stuff. They just don’t listen. … They just don’t pay attention to safety. Simple as that.”
The last IndyCar driver to die in the series was former series champion and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon, who was killed in a crash at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2011. Seven-time Sprint Cup champion Dale Earnhardt Sr. was killed in a crash during the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.