Ryan Newman's Move to Lobby for Increased NASCAR Safety Measures May Have Saved His Life at Daytona 500

Ryan Newman was involved in a scary crash during the Daytona 500 on Monday that sent him to the hospital, one of several wrecks the driver has been in over the years. In 2003, his car flipped several times and landed on its roof at the Daytona 500 and he was involved in a similar crash in 2009 at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.

In 2009, Newman lobbied NASCAR to increase protection for its drivers, and a bar was added to the window of the Gen6 COT that is referred to as the "Newman Bar." The extra protection from the bar may have saved Newman's life on Monday, when his car flipped before being sent down the track on its roof.

During the final lap of the race, Newman's car was tapped by driver Ryan Blaney. Newman's vehicle 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. Crews immediately rushed to the car and had to turn it on its tires before Newman could be removed. He was taken to Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Florida, and his injuries were announced to be non-life-threatening.

Newman has criticized NASCAR several times in the past over safety regulations and even told fans in 2010 that they shouldn't go to the track at Talladega to see races. That year, he was fined by NASCAR for comments he had made, which Newman confirmed to be about the spring race at Talladega.

In 2013, he was involved in another crash that led him to make comments that came close to earning him a second fine.

"They [NASCAR] can build safer race cars, they can build safer walls," he told reporters after a May 2013 race at Talladega, via ESPN. "But they can't get their heads out of their a— far enough to keep them on the race track, and that's pretty disappointing."

"My issue has and always has been, because I seem to be the reciprocate of whatever airborne disease that we have in NASCAR, is that either somebody lands on me or I land on somebody," he said, noting that he chose his words carefully to avoid a financial penalty. "We've proven it's not safe for the fans. ... It's frustrating, and I think I voiced my frustration very fairly. I could have said a lot more and took a penalty, but I chose not to. I think I took a pretty high road."

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Photo Credit: Getty / Jared C. Tilton