During the Coke Zero 400 NASCAR race at the Daytona International Speedway early this morning, a “Big One” occurred. On the race’s final lap, just as Dale Earnhardt Jr. crossed the finish line, chaos erupted behind the pack leader. The domino-effect pileup was triggered when Kevin Harvick gave Denny Hamlin a “push”, a common maneuver at Daytona, and lifted Hamlin’s rear wheels off the ground. Hamlin’s car became unsettled, resulting in a slide, instigating a domino effect as multiple cars crashed into one another.
Austin Dillon’s #3 Chevrolet caught the brunt of the crash. Dillon’s car was launched through the air in the midst of the chaos, hitting the catchfence. As the smoke cleared, and the cars all came to a stop, things looked grim for Dillon, as the #3 was on its roof, shredded to pieces. The still-smoking engine was found alone in the infield grass, having been ripped from the car during the violent impact.
Crew members from multiple teams rushed the wreckage, and gave the thumbs-up when they discovered Dillon’s nearly unscathed condition. Thankfully, despite the graphic nature of the crash, Dillon escaped with nothing more than a bruised tailbone and forearm. Thirteen fans who were in proximity to crash debris from the catchfence were also checked for injuries at the scene. Eight declined treatment, and of the five treated, only one was sent to the hospital, and in stable condition.
This crash goes a long way to show the incredible advancements NASCAR has made in safety and construction. Not long ago, a crash like this could have resulted in far more significant injuries for Dillon and his fellow drivers.
Take a look at the videos below to see the crash for yourself.