Five fans were treated for injuries after a last-lap crash at the rain-delayed Coke Zero 400 on Sunday night that sent Austin Dillon’s car airborne and ripped apart a portion of a Daytona International Speedway catch fence.
After Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick made contact during the last lap, Jeff Gordon drove into the back of Dillon's car, lifting it over several lanes of traffic and into the catch fence near turn 1. As Dillon’s car rested on the track on its roof, and his engine on another part of the track, it was hit again by Brad Keselowski.
Dillon said after the race, which was won by Dale Earnhardt Jr., that NASCAR needs to do something about trying to lower the speeds on the cars so incidents like Sunday’s crash won’t happen again.
"It's not really acceptable I don't think," Dillon said. "We've got to figure out something. I think our speeds are too high, I really do. I think everybody can get good racing with lower speeds, and we can work on that and then figure out a way to keep cars on the ground.
"NASCAR got what they wanted. That's the end of it," Ryan Newman told USA Today. "Cars getting airborne, unsafe drivers, same old stuff. They just don't listen."
Dillon walked away from the crash, but suffered minor injuries to his tailbone and forearm.
Daytona president Joie Chitwood said later that several fans at the track received medical attention—four were treated and released by track medical personnel, eight declined treatment and one fan was sent to a local hospital, where they were treated and released later.
Earnhardt Jr. dominated the race, leading 96 of the 161 laps to earn his second victory of the season. The race started at 11:42 p.m. ET after a three-hour-and-34-minute rain delay. Earnhardt Jr. said he was thankful every driver made it out of the wreck without serious injuries.
"That was terrifying to watch," Earnhardt Jr. said. "You know a wreck like that has such high potential for someone to get injured. You just wonder about everyone else in the grandstands. It was touch and go there for several moments."
Dillion said that he will be ready for next week’s race at Kentucky on Saturday.
"This is what we do. We sign up for this every weekend,” he said.
- Scooby Axson