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Ryan Newman's speech inspired his team before Daytona 500

Alex Andrejev, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Auto Racing

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- During an all-hands meeting at Roush Fenway Racing in January, No. 17 driver Chris Buescher hung toward the back of the room while his teammate, Ryan Newman, took center stage. Newman wanted to give an inspiring speech to rally his teammates before the 2020 season kicked off.

"I literally ended (the meeting) and he said, 'Can I say a few words?' " Roush Fenway Racing President Steve Newmark said. "He gave a great analogy about chains linking together and how teams work together and I was thinking, 'Damn, I wish I had thought of that.' "

Monday evening, Newman again took center stage, but this time spectators were gripped by fear rather than inspiration. Newman was involved in a violent crash in the final stretch of the Daytona 500, a race he almost won.

"That's a tough man right there," tweeted Chris Buescher, who finished in third Monday. "Still, praying for healing for (Newman) and his family."

Newman is awake and speaking with family and doctors, according to a statement released by his Roush Fenway Racing team Tuesday afternoon. Newman has remained at Halifax Medical Center receiving treatment since being transported there Monday night.

"Ryan and his family have expressed their appreciation for the concern and heartfelt messages from across the country," the statement said. "They are grateful for the unwavering support of the NASCAR community and beyond."

 

Newman was off to his best start to a season in seven years before the wreck. He nearly clinched his second Daytona 500 win and led 15 laps of the race, including sitting in first place after rounding the fourth and final turn before his No. 6 car was hit from behind by Ryan Blaney. The contact caused Newman's car to spin to the outside wall before it was hit on the driver's side by Corey LaJoie. That sent the car into the air, then skidding to a stop upside down and aflame.

Safety crews extracted Newman from the Ford and loaded him into a waiting ambulance, which was done behind a privacy screen. The team announced late Monday that Newman was in serious condition, but doctors said his injuries were non-life threatening.

Newman, 42, finished in third place at last week's first duel to earn the No. 7 starting position at the Daytona 500 and eight Cup Series points. Those points, combined with the ones he earned from his ninth-place finish at the marquee race, totaled 36 points, the most he has earned through the first week of the season since 2013.

In 2008, Newman won the Daytona 500 for Team Penske, but he has won no more than two races a year (nine total) in the last 16 seasons. Newman joined Roush last season, in which he had 14 top-10 finishes and made the playoffs. In January Newmark said Newman's 2019 season built the foundation for this year.

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