The 2020 Daytona 500 ended a photo finish on Monday with Denny Hamlin becoming only the fourth driver to win the race in back to back years. But the concern following the race was for Ryan Newman's safety. A crash that occurred near the finish line left Newman , Medics removed him from his flipped vehicle with black screens surrounding the wreck, as to block those in attendance from seeing Newman.
The Great American Race went to overtime, and in the last lap Newman and Ryan Blaney collided, causing Newman's car to hit the wall and flip. With his vehicle partially on fire, the focus shifted from the photo finish between Hamlin and Blaney to the well-being of Newman.
Hamlin, following the win, did burnouts on the Daytona International Speedway infield. He said after the race that he had not realized what was happening with Newman. He told reporters that he became aware of the severity of the situation after he had already celebrated, when he was told no on-track interview would occur.
Hamlin also tweeted after the race, explaining his actions and apologizing for the celebrating:
First a foremost I want to give well wishes and prayers to @RyanJNewman. I had absolutely NO IDEA of the severity of the crash until I got to victory lane. There’s very little communication after the finish and i had already unhooked my radio. It’s not anyone’s fault. 🙏Rocket— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) February 18, 2020
Hamlin told ESPN, "The finish, the history, that's all great. One day it will all sink in. But right now all I'm thinking about is Ryan Newman."
The winner's spotter, Chris Lamber, also apologized for the post-race celebration in a string of tweets. He wrote "put the blame on me if u must blame anyone" and explained that he did not communicate the severity of the crash to Hamlin until after the driver celebrated.
Newman is 42-years-old and currently drives the No. 6 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing. He has been racing in NASCAR for 19 years and in 2008 won the Daytona 500.