Ryan Newman said Wednesday morning on NBC’s “Today” show that he suffered a bruised brain and was knocked unconscious in his Daytona 500 crash, but he wants to return to racing “as soon as I possibly can.”
Newman said in the interview that the cage of his car “was compromised. All those welds held together, so the guys at the shop did an amazing job. I got hit from behind by a car going 190 miles an hour and it pushed me back but then (Corey LaJoie‘s) car pushed me forward, his car actually hit my seat.”
About his injuries, Newman said on the “Today” show: “It takes time for it to heal. I was knocked out. There was a point where I don’t remember a part of the race. Realistically, I feel so lucky. On so many levels, I feel so lucky. You look at the crash and you think that is spectacular in a bad way. You look at the car afterwards, you think about all the things that happened right for me to be sitting here.”
As for when he will return, Newman said: “I don’t know yet. We’re working on it. Soon as I possibly can.”
Newman displayed his trademark humor in the interview when asked about the last thing he remembers from the crash.
“This was my I should have won interview, right?” he said to laughter. “It’s emotional, no doubt. I think about the fact that I was that close, but, really in the end, I’m really humbled by the opportunity to continue my life, to be blessed by so many people’s prayers, to be sitting here and hopefully make something of it, enjoy life with my daughters.”
Newman was asked about his interest in safety throughout his NASCAR career. The Purdue engineer has been outspoken about safety issues.
“It’s not just me, but there’s a whole group at NASCAR that has done a great job, from the tracks to the safety personnel, the drivers inside the cars, the cockpits, the containment seats that we have,” he said. “There are so many levels of things that happened in the last 20 years that I’ve been a part of the sport that helped me be able to sit here today.”
Asked about what went right in the crash that helped him survive, Newman told the “Today” show: “Just where I was kind of hit, so to speak. The cage was compromised. All those welds held together, so the guys at the shop did an amazing job. I got hit from behind by a car going 190 miles an hour and it pushed me back but then (Corey LaJoie’s) car pushed me forward, his car actually hit my seat. Just lots of things that happened that aligned. The angels aligned and held a really good grip with their hands.”
“The angels aligned.” NASCAR driver @RyanJNewman opens up about the moments after his frightening wreck on the final lap of the Daytona 500 less than a month ago. pic.twitter.com/WUo27lIruo
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) March 11, 2020
Newman was asked why he would want to return to racing after surviving such a horrific accident when he could retire at 42 instead.
“I love it,” he said. “Because I’m just 42 right? Really, I love it. It’s been a little bit painful to be out of the racecar, to not being doing what I’ve done for so many years. I started racing when I was 4 years old, 4 1/2 years old. It’s just kind of who I am.”
As for what he told his two daughters, who walked out of the hospital with him hand in hand, Newman told the “Today” show: “Just daddy’s alright. They seem to be completely fine with the fact that I’m still daddy. I think it would be totally different if something else would have happened, but I’m 100 percent who I was, which they were good with.”
What makes a driver want to get back behind the wheel of a car after a crash?
Racers want to race.@RyanJNewman // @roushfenway (via @TODAYshow) pic.twitter.com/uyIl37zsrg
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) March 11, 2020
Newman led the Daytona 500 with 1 mile to go last month after being pushed to the front by Ryan Blaney. After exiting Turn 4, Newman blocked Blaney, who then tried to push Newman to the win to ensure a Ford victory. But one of the shoves from Blaney’s car unsettled Newman’s car and it turned into the wall.
Newman’s car went airborne and spun upside down. LaJoie couldn’t avoid Newman’s car and hit it on the driver’s side while it was upside down. Newman’s car landed on its roof and slid down the frontstretech, coming to rest beyond the exit of pit road.
NASCAR later stated that Newman was extracted from the car 15 minutes, 40 seconds after the car came to rest. Newman was hospitalized for about 42 hours after his crash.
In a statement last month, Newman said that the only injury he suffered from the crash was a head injury. Newman has not disclosed any other details about that injury but told reporters last weekend at Phoenix Raceway that he had no timetable for his return to racing.
Last weekend at Phoenix marked Newman’s first time at a track since his crash at Daytona. He told reporters in a brief interview: “It’s great to be alive. If you looked at my car, it’s a miracle.”
Drivers were excited to see Newman at Phoenix. Newman surprised some when he attended an event for Ford drivers.
“It was nice to see him,” Blaney said. “He is full Ryan Newman caliber and it is great to see. It was cool to hear some of the process that he went through and some of the doctors that worked on him. They were very extensive with him and he has been passing everything with flying colors which is unheard of and great to hear.”
Said Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin: “It’s a blessing to be in this position and be talking about when he will get back in the car, especially at this time. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Ross Chastain has driven Newman’s No. 6 car for Roush Fenway Racing in the three races since the Daytona 500 and is on the entry list for this weekend’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Wednesday afternoon, Newman posted a picture of himself doing his “therapy.”
Got more therapy in today! #fishingtherapy #catchandrelease #nature #outdoors pic.twitter.com/7Lfu0zlUQF
— Ryan Newman (@RyanJNewman) March 11, 2020