Daytona 500 Crash: Why Ryan Newman Is Named 'Rocket Man'

After Ryan Newman was involved in a crash during the Daytona 500 on Monday, many of his fellow drivers and fans began sharing well-wishes on Twitter, a number of the messages referring to Newman as "Rocket Man." Newman earned his nickname at age 22 during his first season with NASCAR, scoring the moniker thanks in part to his fast driving and his engineering degree.

The Indiana native first began driving when he was young and became a star racer as a teen, debuting in 1993 in the United Midget Auto Racing Association and the All-American Midget Series, where he won both Rookie of the Year and the championship. He earned an engineering degree from Purdue University before making his NASCAR debut in 2002. That season, he set a rookie record with six pole wins and was named Rookie of the Year.

Throughout his career, he has earned 18 Cup wins, including the 2008 Daytona 500 and 2013 Brickyard 400. He has seven career wins in the Xfinity Series and one win in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series. He currently drives for Roush Fenway Racing and has previously driven for Richard Childress Racing,Stewart-Haas Racing and Penske Racing.

Newman is currently in his 19th full season in the NASCAR Cup Series. During this year's Daytona 500, he was involved in a crash during the final lap after his car was tapped by fellow driver Ryan Blaney's car. Newman's No. 6 Ford Mustang spun out of control and flew through the air, flipping several times before hitting the wall, where it was hit on its driver's side at full speed by driver Corey LaJoie's vehicle. That impact caused the Ford to skid down the track on its roof while on fire.

Newman was hospitalized on Monday night with non-life-threatening injuries and was released on Wednesday. Roush Fenway shared a photo of the driver walking out of the hospital holding hands with his two young daughters.


The 42-year-old has previously been involved in multiple crashes including a 2003 incident in which his car flipped several times and landed on its roof at the Daytona 500 and a similar crash in 2009 at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. In 2010, he was fined by NASCAR after he made comments about the spring race at Talladega. He also crashed in 2013 at Talladega.

Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton / Stringer, Getty