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A Grip on Sports: How Ryan Newman survived Monday’s Daytona 500 crash is miraculous – and a relief

Denny Hamlin's crew celebrates after Hamlin won the NASCAR Daytona 500 on Monday in Daytona Beach, Florida. At the time, they were unaware of the severity of Ryan Newman’s crash. (Terry Renna / Associated Press)
Denny Hamlin's crew celebrates after Hamlin won the NASCAR Daytona 500 on Monday in Daytona Beach, Florida. At the time, they were unaware of the severity of Ryan Newman’s crash. (Terry Renna / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Car crashes are usually more a part of snowy mornings on Interstate 90 than they are Monday sports, but that wasn’t the case yesterday at weather-delayed Daytona. A horrifying last-lap crash earned more headlines, and rightfully so, than the winner.


• When a guy fighting to win the Daytona 500 gets airborne just before the finish line, is pinballed around by other cars, catches fire and crashes, of course the sporting world is going to stop and take notice.

Too many bad memories bubble up.

But, thankfully, Ryan Newman survived. According to the latest reports, his injuries are said to not to be life-threatening though he is in serious condition.

How that could be after what happened is mystifying. Newman’s car was a blazing wreck of a shell when it finally came to a stop. And yet he lived.

It’s a testament to how much time, effort and money NASCAR puts into its vehicles, all in an attempt to allow the drivers to go as fast as possible and to survive if the unthinkable – or maybe unavoidable – happens. It worked yesterday.

Denny Hamlin avoided the mess and won his third Daytona 500 title and his second consecutive one. His third one puts him in elite company, up with Jeff Gordon, who was doing the broadcast, Dale Jarrett and Bobby Allison in third place for most wins. Cale Yarborough is second with four, three behind Richard Petty.

But all that was overshadowed by what happened to Newman. It was a disturbing crash with what looks to be less-than-feared results.

• While looking up those numbers this morning, I noticed something interesting. There are a few drivers who have won both the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500, the two biggest races in two different types of racing.

Can you name the two drivers that did it? The answer is below. And yes, I figured it out without Google, though I did double-check my answer.


Gonzaga: Mondays are about the polls and the awards. At least at GU. The Bulldogs remained second in the polls yesterday – Jim Meehan examines that here – and Filip Petrusev won his third West Coast Conference player of the week – Jim has that as well. … Mondays are also the day Jim talks with Larry Weir for the Press Box pod. … Speaking of polls, the women jumped a couple of spots as they embark on their final road trip, three games over two weeks. Jim Allen has more in this piece. … The baseball team evened its record with a bottom-of-the-ninth rally. … Elsewhere in the WCC, it may only last a week, but BYU is ranked.

WSU: Around the Pac-12, Oregon’s legislature is following California’s lead and moving forward with compensation for college athletes. … There are a few Oregon basketball players who would benefit from that. … Colorado’s basketball program is a bit different. … A Utah player was schooled last weekend, but he learned a lot. … Arizona’s Bay Area sweep is only worthwhile if the Wildcats can follow up at home this weekend. … UCLA can still get into the NCAA Tournament. So can a lot of Pac-12 teams. … In football news, how different will Washington’s offense be under Jimmy Lake? … Mel Tucker is taking a couple Colorado offensive assistants to Michigan State.

EWU: How important are athletics to a university? That time-honored discussion is underway again in Cheney, as four professors put together a report  for the Faculty Senate that examines the answer. Their response: It’s not worth the money spent. Chad Sokol has more in this story.

Idaho: If it isn’t in Cheney, the Vandals have a tough time winning on the road. They lost last night at Portland State. … The women won in Moscow against the same opponent.

Whitworth: The Pirates have a chance to finish atop the Northwest Conference standings. Or, if they lose both of their regular-season ending road games, finish as low as third. The push to the postseason begins tonight in Walla Walla where Whitworth faces Whitman. Dan Thompson has a preview.

Mariners: Justus Sheffield was in and out of the M’s rotation last season. He wants to stay in it this one. … Is it possible the sign-stealing fiasco could be good for the game?

Seahawks: If you’re wondering which side of the ball Pete Carroll wants to improve, wonder no longer.


• A.J. Foyt won four Indianapolis 500s and the 1972 Daytona 500. Mario Andretti won Daytona in 1967 – the only foreign-born driver to win the race – and at Indy in 1969, making him the first to win the two most important American races. Until later …

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