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Mood Changes For Daytona 500.

Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

The last lap of the Nationwide Series race at Daytona changed everything yesterday. As Tony Stewart took the checkered flag, Kyle Larsen’s car was involved in a wreck and got tossed into the catch fence separating the fans from the track. The car’s engine and one tire were embedded in the fence, but a tire and suspension parts flew over the fence and into the crowd.

28 race fans were injured. 14 treated on site and 14 were taken to Halifax Regional Medical Center. Sadly, two are in critical condition. One a 14 year old boy. Our prayers (and hopefully yours) go out to  those that were injured.

This is the nightmare of every driver. I  believe, in modern history, it only happened once before in NASCAR’s premiere series. At Daytona with driver Geoff Bodine. Several drivers in Sprint Cup participated, in one way or another, in yesterday’s race. They are shaken, shocked and saddened by the accident and the injured fans. Fans mean everything to these drivers. So expect a somber Daytona 500. It will not be the party you were looking for,

An odd twist will come as well, as the broadcasters had planned to feature talk of Newtown, Connecticut’s tragedy and Michael Waltrip’s car paint scheme featuring a tribute to Newtown. Some Newtown families will be there. The big question is: how will all of this be handled?

If NASCAR President Mike Helton’s tone is any indication, no one will be happy today. Especially not the race winner. The winner, in my opinion, will be the one that collects his/her emotions best and focuses on the task at hand most.

A technical note: race tracks and NASCAR constantly look to improve safety for both fans and drivers. Sometimes a situation, like this, happens that cannot be foreseen. You can be sure every track on the circuit and NASCAR are already looking for a fix.

The 55th Daytona 500 will begin at 1:30 pm today as scheduled.

 

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