By JENNA FRYER
AP Auto Racing Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Ryan Newman was released from a Florida hospital on Wednesday, about 42 hours after his frightening crash on the final lap of the Daytona 500.
Roush Fenway Racing released a photo of Newman leaving a Daytona Beach hospital holding the hands of his two young daughters. The announcement came just a few hours after the team said he was fully alert and walking around the hospital.
The 42-year-old Indiana native was taken by ambulance directly from the track in serious condition following the crash Monday night. Doctors said two hours after the accident that Newman’s injuries were not life-threatening, but no details have been released.
His release from the hospital was rapid. Roush Fenway said earlier Wednesday that Newman “continues to show great improvement.” The team added that “true to his jovial nature, he has also been joking around with staff, friends and family while playing with his two daughters” and included a photo of Newman standing in a hospital gown, smiling with his arms around the girls.
Two hours later, he was leaving the hospital in jeans, a T-shirt and socks, holding hands with his girls. The team released a third photo of Newman and his daughters with the staff that treated him following his crash.
“First and foremost, our focus remains with Ryan and his family as he continues to recover,” said Roush Fenway president Steve Newmark. “We also want to express our sincere gratitude to all of those who have offered support and taken the time to send their thoughts and prayers to Ryan, his family and everyone at Roush Fenway Racing.”
“The NASCAR community has long prided itself on being a close-knit family. That is never more evident than during these types of moments.”
Roush Fenway said Ross Chastain will pilot the No. 6 Ford beginning this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and that a timetable for Newman’s return has yet to be determined.
Chastain is running for the Xfinity Series championship this year for Kaulig Racing, but drove in the Daytona 500 last weekend for Spire Motorsports in a car fielded by Chip Ganassi.
“We want to express our appreciation to everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing as well as Kaulig Racing for allowing Ross to fill in for Ryan in the No. 6 on such short notice,” Newmark said.
Chastain, an eighth-generation watermelon farmer, is gradually trying to move into NASCAR’s top Cup Series. He’s got 72 career Cup starts for small teams but has been waiting for a break in competitive equipment.
Chastain has won three times in the Truck Series and twice in the Xfinity Series, including a win at Las Vegas in 2018.
“No one could ever take the place of Ryan Newman on the track, and I can’t wait to have him back,” Chastain tweeted. “As we continue to pray for a full and speedy recovery, I’ll do my best to make him and everyone at Roush Fenway Racing proud.”
Newman was injured when he crashed while leading NASCAR’s biggest race. Contact from Ryan Blaney sent Newman spinning into the wall and his Ford went airborne, where it was then hit by Corey LaJoie in the driver side door.
The car landed on its roof, slid across Daytona International Speedway and came to a rest upside down and on fire, with gasoline pouring out of the vehicle. It took a safety team nearly 20 minutes to remove Newman from the car and he was taken directly to the hospital.
Blaney and LaJoie have stepped back from racing to process their roles in the accident. LaJoie climbed from his own burning car and dropped to his knees on the track, learning only after he was checked at the care center that Newman was injured.
Blaney seemed distraught as he paced beside his car following his second-place finish to Denny Hamlin. Fellow driver Bubba Wallace, one of Blaney’s best friends, said he spent time with Blaney on Tuesday and advised him to stay off social media for a few days.
“He’s holding up, of course devastated and bummed about the situation,” Wallace posted on Twitter. “Had to sit there and explain to him could’ve happened to him or any of us in the field. IT’S RACING. Just unfortunate to be on either end of it.”
Wallace also praised Blaney’s atttempt to push Newman to the win in a move of brand alliance for Ford. When Blaney tried to lock onto Newman’s bumper to give him a shove the cars didn’t align properly and Newman was instead hooked into a spin.
“I know Ford should be proud to have him under their banner because he was so content on pushing his Ford teammate to win the biggest race of the year,” Wallace wrote. “Which makes it worse (because) a simple selfless gesture went south in the blink of an eye.”
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