Ryan Newman Thanks Daytona Officials, Safety Crew in Return to Track After Crash

Veteran NASCAR driver Ryan Newman headed to Daytona International Speedway on Sunday for the Go Bowling 235. He made history as part of the first Cup Series race on the road course but also experienced an emotional moment. This was Newman's first race at the Florida track since his terrifying crash in the Daytona 500, and he spent time prior to the race thanking the track officials and members of the safety crew.

Newman delivered his message over the radio while taking part in practice laps. NBC broadcast the audio and highlighted Newman's message to the officials. "Hey, everyone, just wanted to say a big thank you," Newman said while driving the No. 6 Roush Fenway Ford Mustang. "This is a special day for me." The veteran driver explained that he was able to make his return to the race team and the track due to their efforts in February. He thanked them for pulling him out of the car, as well as all of the efforts that they put in to keep every driver safe.

The incident initially occurred during the season-opening Daytona 500 in February. Newman came within inches of securing the victory and booking a trip to the playoffs, but he spun out of control after Ryan Blaney tapped his car from behind. Fellow driver Corey LaJoie hit Newman's stock car while it was spinning and launched it into the air.

Following the crash, the safety crews raced to the No. 6 Ford Mustang and worked to extricate Newman. They cut him out of the car and took him to Halifax Medical Center. He spent nearly two days in the hospital but was released after suffering a brain bruise. Newman continued to recover while NASCAR faced a 10-week postponement due to COVID-19, and he was able to make his official return to the Cup Series. However, Newman still expected to become emotional for his return to Daytona.

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"I guess after February I'm pretty emotional every day," Newman said recently, per AP News. "I'm just thankful for the opportunity to continue on. I get to hit the reset button in a roundabout way, not with my life, but the reality is just to continue to play on. I will probably be some sort of emotional going back to Daytona, but I don't see it being a whole lot different than the kind of emotion I had getting in the car at Talladega or even going back to Darlington for that matter when I went and did my first test."

Newman started Sunday's race 14th overall with the intention of securing a victory. Winning would provide him with a spot in the playoffs, as well as crucial points, but the veteran driver also wanted to win for another reason. He wanted to finish strong after ending the previous Daytona race in an ambulance.