Six seconds led to 42 hours. Those six seconds were all that separated Ryan Newman from a second Daytona 500 triumph. The agonizing 42 hours is how long it took until our fears of Newman’s life took a drastic turn for the good.
With drafting help from fellow Ford driver Ryan Blaney, the Roush Fenway Racing driver took the lead on the final lap of the 2020 Daytona 500 on the backstretch. The tandem exited Turn 4 running 1-2 and Newman held the lead for six seconds off the corner with only the checkered flag in his sights.
He unfortunately had to be reactive in the final pursuit of victory and make a maneuver that anyone else in that situation would have made in that moment too. He moved to block Blaney’s run in order to solidify his chance at another win in NASCAR’s Super Bowl.
Unfortunately, that move not only cost him a win, but it hospitalized him as a result. It prompted a wild 42 hour timeframe which saw all of us fear for Newman’s well being to him walking out of the hospital.
That situation, that moment, Newman doesn’t want to let that one crash define his NASCAR career. The Indiana native has won 18 times in the pinnacle of the sport including the 2008 Daytona 500 as well as the 2013 Brickyard 400. Unfortunately, last year’s frightening crash on the last lap of the 62nd running of the Daytona 500 is what people are remembering Newman as right now.
He doesn’t want to be known as the guy who survived one of the more horrific crash that you’d ever see. He understands why people are so interested in that crash. The aftermath was one of the biggest feel good stories of the year to witness a photo of he and his daughters walking out of the hospital just 42 after after a critical crash.
For 42 hours, we feared for his life. No one thought after what had just happened that he’d walk out of the hospital, each daughter on either side of him, walking barefoot with barely a scratch or bruise on his body.
It truly was God’s work being shown through Newman. Now, Newman is wanting to use this as a platform. He isn’t ready for that to be the end of his racing book. It’s just a page in a chapter of his life but not the moment to define him. He’s not ready to be done. He still has more that he’s willing to accomplish in his racing career and that crash isn’t going to slow him down.
Newman, returns to the scene of the crash next week as he prepares to embark on his 20th Daytona Speedweeks. While it won’t be his first start at Daytona since the incident, it will be his first ‘500 back as the Daytona 500 punches a little more weight than the Coke Zero Sugar 400 annually does. The attention will be greater now than it was in late August even though Newman was hoping to win the race last year in what he was hoping would be a storybook opportunity.
Even though he didn’t win, he does have another chance on Valentines Day to write what would be a remarkable made for Hollywood script.
Newman, said that when people wonder why he’s continuing on, why climb back in that car that nearly took your life? Why risk danger again? How would your brain process a second go around?
Well, he again credits our good Lord in saying things that happened did so for a reason and how things occurred in the aftermath is also part of the plan that’s greater than his.
That main part is that he doesn’t have any memory of the crash itself. That day last year, is blocked out of his memory forever. That helps as to one part on why he’s able to keep continuing on with his dream job. He’s not supposed to remember that day for a reason.
“I’ve had zero,” Newman said on if he’s had any hesitation on getting back in a NASCAR again in wake of last year’s accident. “I’ve had people question me. But the reality is, God works in mysterious ways and one of those mysterious ways that I can’t answer is the deletion of that chapter, that part of my hard drive that was that day, so that I can’t remember the potential tragedy that wasn’t,” Newman said. “So, I don’t have any fear because I don’t have any memory, and that was the same analogy I used. If you’ve ever been in a car accident or you know somebody that’s been in a car accident and they were conscious the whole time, they will always carry that fear with them. And I have no memory, so therefore, I have no fear.
Another reason is because his family is okay with him keeping going. While his two young daughters could be frightened to be going back to the place that put their daddy in the hospital, Newman said that they’re actually instead excited to be going back next week. There’s no animosity on their end either.
That all combined helps the healing process and to allow him to keep going with a dream of chasing his second Daytona 500 crown. He has no memory of that day and he has his family’s blessing.
“I have no reason to not do what I love,” he continued.
The safety aspect comforts him too. He said if you’d see his helmet from last year’s crash, you’d wonder how his head is still in the shape that it’s in. He had no business walking away from that crash like he did and he feels a greater sense of relief and joy and even peace in the aftermath with his life as well as his career.
“I continually say I haven’t changed,” Newman said. “It’s opened my eyes, made me more appreciative of a lot of things in life. I feel like it has magnified my personality for all the positive things and decreased the negative things. That’s an adjustment.”
Now, he’s going to try and process what happened last year and figure out a way for him to hold onto the lead on the final lap heading to the finish line. We know speedway racing is a different form and it takes as much skill as it does luck. The aggression is as high as its ever been and with the package that they’re racing now, the leader is a sitting duck.
So, with how last year ended, you’d think Newman would just look to other races to study his craft. With no recollection of that crash, Newman, like most others if they were involved in that crash, would just ignore it. Instead, he’s intrigued.
Some may not ever want to even see a video of a crash like that with them being involved. and Newman having no recollection of the crash itself, he’s actually wanting to study it further. So, he’s more recently searched out videos to see what exactly happened.
“I’ve watched every angle that I could possibly watch,” Newman said. “The biggest problem is I don’t have any memory of my own angle, which is the ultimate angle. And that’s gone, and that’ll always be gone, and no matter how many times I watch a replay or a different variation of that memory, it doesn’t change my personal memory because it just doesn’t exist.”
The reason for a more recent interest is due to last spring and summer, he wasn’t focused on the crash at that time anyways. He was trying to get back into the saddle of things behind the wheel of his car and also more concerned about how things were going for him in his personal life off the track too.
“I was more worried at the time about all the other things I had going on with my life,” Newman said. “I can’t answer the level of my injuries. I just remember my dad telling and showing me what happened. I studied it a little bit but at that point, I was studying the more important things in my life.”
Since though, he has sought out multiple views and came across a YouTube page giving him every angle he could have asked for in one video.
“YouTube is an amazing tool,” he said. “I didn’t realize someone created a video of every angle of my crash until about a month or two ago. I literally laid in bed one morning. It brought tears to my eyes — tears of respect and appreciation. Not sadness.”
Newman is now back. He’ll climb aboard that No. 6 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing next Wednesday and qualify for next Sunday’s Great American Race. He’ll do so with only videos to show what happened to time the last he went through the tri-oval in Daytona last February.