The Daytona Speedway crash on Saturday sent 14 fans to the hospital and required another 14 fans to be treated on site. One adult sustained life-threatening head trauma and a 14-year-old is in critical, but not life-threatening condition. All 28 injured fans were watching the horrific multicar Daytona crash just moments before the end of the Nationwide Series race when "Kyle Larson's car flew into the frontstretch catch fencing, shearing off its front half and leaving large pieces of the vehicle inside the fencing.”
According to a Feb. 23, 2013, ESPN report, Kyle Larson said after the crash that "I was getting pushed from behind. … Before I could react, it was too late. Flames came in the cockpit, but I was able to get out of the car quick."
On the last lap of the race, Regan Smith was leading and Brad Keselowski was right on his back bumper. Smith’s car suddenly spun to the right, shot up the track, and triggered the crash that involved 12 race cars.
Regan Smith knew Brad was on his back and would try to pass as the cars were heading for the finish line. According to NASCAR, "Saturday's wreck happened after driver Regan Smith, who was leading the race, attempted to block another driver as they were nearing the checkered flag and hit the other car."
Later on, Regan Smith told NASCAR, "My fault. ... I threw a block. I'll take the blame for it. But when you see the checkered flag at Daytona, you're going to block, and you're going to do everything you can to be the first car back to the stripe. It just didn't work out today. Just hoping everything is OK, everyone who was in the wreck and all the fans."
When a car is heading towards the spectator area at almost 200 mph and hits the fencing, parts of the race car start flying. ESPN’s YouTube video shows how Karl Larson’s car gets thrown into the protective net, loses his whole front, and how his front tire and other parts of his car are flying into the spectator area.
While the fencing served its primary purpose of keeping half of Karl Larson’s car out of the seating area, it couldn't keep potentially lethal shards from flying into the stands.
The reaction of fans was that of utmost disbelief.
"There was absolute shock," commented one fan. "People were saying, `I can't believe it, I can't believe it. I've never seen this happen, I've never seen this happen. Did the car [go] through the fence?' It was just shock and awe. Grown men were reaching out and grabbing someone, saying, `Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!' It was just disbelief, absolute disbelief."
Another fan whose brother is one of the 28 injured said that "Stuff was flying everywhere. … It was like you was in a war zone or something. Tires were flying by and smoke and everything else."
While Tony Stewart won the race and Sam Hornish Jr. came in second, neither one was in the mood to celebrate.
After the race, Tony Stewart, who is a three-time NASCAR champion, said that "So as much as we want to celebrate right now and as much as this is a big deal to us, I'm more worried about the drivers and the fans that are in the stands right now because that was ... I could see it all in my mirror, and it didn't look good from where I was at. … The important thing is what's going on on the frontstretch right now. … We've always known, and since racing started, this is a dangerous sport. But it's hard. We assume that risk, but it's hard when the fans get caught up in it.”