Steve O’Donnell Shares Update on Newman’s Daytona Crash

Rachel Schuoler / Kickin' the Tires

LAS VEGAS, NV — Five days after the terrifying crash at Daytona International Speedway, safety leaders in NASCAR held a press conference at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to discuss an overview of the last lap accident, medical and safety systems involved and the organization’s procedure moving forward. The three individuals seated at the interview table included Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, John Bobo, vice president of racing operations, and John Patalak, Senior Director of Safety Engineering, NASCAR Research and Development.

To open, O’Donnell made it clear they would not be sharing updates on Newman’s health or progress and leave that to him and Roush Fenway to provide updates directly.

“We will not discuss the extent of Ryan Newman’s injuries because of HIPAA laws,” said O’Donnell. “But we are keeping in touch with him every step of the way.”

O’Donnell shared the following timeline regarding the medical team’s response to Newman’s crash on the final lap of the Daytona 500 in the NASCAR Cup Series.

  • 0:19 seconds after Newman’s car came to a rest on the track upside down – the “tool truck,” which includes a firefighter or safety member with a fire extinguisher, arrived at the car.
  • 0:33 seconds – an assigned trauma doctor arrived at the car.
  • 0:35 seconds – a paramedic entered the vehicle, while doctors and paramedics attended to Newman.
  • 4:05 minutes – the medical crew made the decision to roll the car over to an upright position. This was the only time a doctor did not directly assist Newman
  • 6:56 minutes – the car was fully uprighted. Extrication of the driver began and a doctor returned to attend Newman.
  • 15:40 minutes – the driver was extracted from the car successfully, and Newman was placed in an ambulance and was transported to Halifax Medical Center.

“During this entire time, doctors and paramedics were attending to Ryan, except for during the car rollover,” O’Donnell said after sharing the timeline of the medical team’s response to Newman’s crash. “The first responders performed their jobs as they were trained. The training systems all worked as were designed.

“We are never satisfied with what took place and we will learn as much as possible and implement those changes, if there are any, as soon as possible.”

It was mentioned that O’Donnell does not anticipate any changes with NASCAR’s overtime and caution procedures. While there was no celebrating Newman’s speedy recovery at NASCAR’s Research & Development Center, there was a high level of satisfaction that NASCAR’s safety efforts worked as intended.

“There is always something we’re going to learn,” he said. “Our job is to get the races in, make them exciting for the fans and not have those kinds of incidents. So, if we can improve on that, we’ll do that.

“Everything that goes on at the R&D Center on a daily basis is put in place for a reason. This is our job. This is what we do, and you’ve got the 40 drivers in the garage area who expect us to do this every day.”

At this time, NASCAR does not have any announcements for changes to be implemented for Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama when the Cup Series visits in late-April.

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