Daytona 500 driver Ryan Newman awake, speaking following fiery crash

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images(DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.) — NASCAR driver Ryan Newman is “awake and speaking with family and doctors” following a fiery crash at the end of Monday night’s Daytona 500, according to his team.

“Ryan and his family have expressed their appreciation for the concern and heartfelt messages from across the country,” officials with Newman’s racing team, Roush Fenway Racing, said in a statement Tuesday.

Roush Fenway officials said earlier that Newman was “in serious condition, but doctors have indicated his injuries are not life threatening.”

Newman was leading the race into the final lap when he skidded out while trying to avoid his pursuers. His car slammed into a wall and flipped over, then was struck by at least one car from behind, causing the vehicle to fly through the air.

Corey LaJoie was driving the car that unavoidably slammed into the back of Newman’s. LaJoie recalled the “scary crash” in a brief interview Tuesday on Good Morning America.

“It was wild,” he said. “I didn’t even know who I hit.”

After landing on the ground, Newman’s car slid on its roof as sparks flew. Then the vehicle briefly burst into flames as it came to rest upside-down on its roof.

Newman was inside the car as crews raced to extinguish the flames and free him from the vehicle. He was extracted from the car and taken to the hospital.

Denny Hamlin won the race for the second year in a row.

NASCAR drivers and racing fans sent words of support for Newman and his family. Jeffrey Earnhardt, who lost his grandfather Dale Earnhardt in a crash during the 2001 Daytona 500, tweeted that he was praying that Newman was OK.

“Never good to see a wreck like that,” he said.

The race began Sunday but was postponed midway through because of rain.

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