The NASCAR driver who survived a frightening last-lap crash at Daytona 500 in February, says he could be back behind the wheel and competing in a matter of weeks.
Ryan Newman has confirmed he will return to the sport whenever NASCAR is allowed to resume.
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Newman announced on Sunday in the United States (Monday AEST) that he’ll return to the No. 6 car whenever NASCAR races get underway again - potentially as early as next month.
Such a scenario represents an astonishing turn of events for a driver for whom many race fans held grave fears for after his terrifying last-lap crash at Daytona earlier in the year.
Newman has been out of the car since suffering a head injury in the Daytona 500 incident in February.
However, he told Fox Sports that he will be ready to race when NASCAR calls drivers back to the track.
"That's the absolute plan for sure. I am healthy," Newman said.
"I have been blessed with another layer of this [coronavirus] situation giving me more time to heal, and I look forward to being back in the seat, for sure."
"I am so excited and thankful all at the same time to be healthy and at some point get back in a race car when the world starts turning again," Newman added.
"And thankful for all the people and support that I've got from family, fans, you name it that have prayed for me, you name it, you have given me this multitude of miracles."
Newman was leading the Daytona 500 off the final turn on the final lap as he was racing Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney for the win.
The 42-year-old's car went head-on into the outside wall off Blaney’s bumper and then flipped over from the impact.
Newman’s car was then hit on the driver’s side while upside down by Corey LaJoie’s car and skidded down the track.
Track workers had to cut Newman out of the car and immediately transported him to a local hospital.
Updates on his condition were scarce at first leaving many concerned supporters fearing that he wouldn't pull through.
Lifting up Ryan Newman in prayer right now and I ask you all to do the same. If you haven’t seen the crash yet — it was beyond terrifying. Pray for his family.— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) February 18, 2020
Absolutely awful crash. Praying for Ryan Newman #Daytona500— Britt McHenry (@BrittMcHenry) February 18, 2020
Speechless after tuning in to watch the end of the #Dayton500.— Travis Eldridge (@tgeldrid) February 18, 2020
Prayers to Ryan Newman.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an analyst as visibly shaken as Jeff Gordon at the end of the broadcast. I hope it’s better than it seems.
NASCAR yet to give clearance for Newman’s return
Fortunately, Newman walked out of the hospital with his family days later.
His return to competitive racing - potentially less than four months since the incident - would be an incredible comeback story for the driver.
However, NASCAR said Newman had not been cleared to race. Yet.
"We share Ryan's enthusiasm in his return to the track," the statement said. "We look forward to Ryan returning to racing as soon as he is medically cleared to race."
NASCAR says Ryan Newman is not yet cleared to race (Ryan said today his plan is he will be ready by mid-May). NASCAR: “We share Ryan’s enthusiasm in his return to the track. We look forward to Ryan returning to racing as soon as he is medically cleared to race.” @NASCARONFOX— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) April 26, 2020
Ross Chastain had been Newman’s replacement until the NASCAR season was halted in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Chastain is now seen as the likely contender to take over for Kyle Larson in the No. 42 car whenever NASCAR resumes.
Larson was fired earlier this month after he said the n-word during a sim race broadcast on NASCAR’s website.
NASCAR is reportedly trying to get its season restarted at some point in May, whether it’s at Charlotte Motor Speedway or elsewhere.
Leaders in states like Florida, South Carolina and Texas have expressed their interest in holding a NASCAR race when the series returns, though the sanctioning body has not officially announced revised schedules for the 2020 season.
with Yahoo Sport US