Ryan Newman says his helmet got 'crushed' in his terrifying Daytona crash

Ryan Newman believes that parts from his car hit his helmet during his scary last-lap crash in February’s Daytona 500.

Newman’s car hit the wall head-on after contact with Ryan Blaney’s car as the two raced to the finish line with eventual winner Denny Hamlin. After Newman’s car hit the wall it flipped over and was hit on the driver’s side by Corey LaJoie’s car. That impact sent Newman’s car skidding down the track.

Newman suffered a bruised brain in the crash but was able to walk out of the hospital days later. He’s set to compete in NASCAR’s race Sunday at Darlington. It’s the first race for the Cup Series since March 8 and Newman’s first race back since the Daytona crash.

“I don’t have anything that is conclusive that says that his car hit my helmet,” Newman said in a news conference Thursday. “I do know that parts of the inside of my car hit my helmet and crushed it, so to speak. I don’t have any defined video that I can give you 100 percent answer that says this is exactly the second that this happened, but I see the end result and that my helmet did have contact and my [head and neck restraint] did have contact, and I was being moved backwards in my seat as his car was moving me forward, so I can’t honestly tell you what percentage of that inertia and those physics that went into the actual action of the crash were being driven by his car hitting me or his car hitting my roll bars.”

Newman said that the 500 was his fourth race with a new style of carbon fiber helmet. After he was extricated from his car following the crash he was immediately taken to a local hospital and listed in serious condition.

“Everything aligned in so many ways,” he said. “The safety workers, the personnel that were involved, that were inside the car with me, spent time with me during and after the crash, every layer of it there was multiple miracles – big miracles and little miracles, in my opinion – that aligned for me to be able to walk out days later with my hands around my daughters and to be thankful.”

Ryan Newman's car after it was hit by Corey LaJoie's in the Daytona 500. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)

Newman has no memory of crash or hours after

Newman said that he can’t recall the crash or his time at the hospital until shortly before he walked out with his daughters. He even asked his dad at one point if his crash had really happened as he saw a replay.

“They were trying to keep me in a somewhat of a medically induced coma from what I’ve been told, and that medicine kind of zoned me out, so I really don’t have any memories or recollection of any of my crash until I actually had my arms around my daughters walking out of the hospital,” He said. “Again, when they give you those medicines and you’re knocked out, you don’t know what’s going on. I was able to walk out in the condition that I was and as I watched in the next 24 hours — as I watched the crash and had to make myself believe what I had went through — I really looked to my dad to say, ‘Hey, did this really happen?’  Like it was kind of there’s no déjà vu when there’s no déjà. It was just kind of like, ‘All right, I believe you.’  It’s crazy. I’m happy I’m here.”

NASCAR said in April that it would be mandating extra support bars to the roll cages of cars in the area where Newman’s car was hit by LaJoie’s for future races at Daytona and Talladega. It’s the second time that NASCAR has made further safety changes in the wake of a crash involving Newman. It previously made safety tweaks after Newman’s car flipped at Talladega and the cage of the car had been compromised.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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