A fiery last-lap crash at the Daytona International Speedway injured a number of spectators today, who were seen being carried away from the stands on stretchers.
Fifteen spectators were taken to the hospital, according to ESPN, with one on the way to surgery with head trauma.
The 12-car crash happened moments before the end of the Nationwide race, and on the eve of the Daytona 500, one of NASCAR’s biggest events.
The crash was apparently triggered when driver Regan Smith’s car, which was being tailed by Brad Keselowski on his back bumper, spun to the right and shot up the track. Smith had been in the lead and said after the crash he had been trying to throw a “block.”
When a haze of smoke cleared and Larson’s car came to a stop, he jumped out uninjured.
His engine and one of his wheels were sitting in a walkway of the grandstand.
“I was getting pushed from behind,” Larson told ESPN. “Before I could react, it was too late.”
Driver Michael Annett was taken to the hospital after he slammed head-on into a barrier during the chaos. NASCAR officials told ESPN the driver was awake and alert.
Tony Stewart pulled out the win, but in victory lane, what would have been a celebratory mood was tempered by concern for the injured fans.
“We’ve always known this is a dangerous sport,” Stewart said. ‘But it’s hard when the fans get caught up in it.”