Daytona Beach, FL (Sports Network) - Sunday's Daytona 500 will go on asscheduled after at least 28 race fans were injured during a horrifying crashthat occurred in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Daytona InternationalSpeedway.
The 12-car accident happened on the frontstretch during the last lap ofSaturday's 300-mile race at Daytona. Brad Keselowski, the 2012 Sprint CupSeries champion, hit Regan Smith from behind and spun him into the wall on thetri-oval, which triggered the big wreck. Rookie Kyle Larson flipped around andsailed into the catchfence before coming back down on the track. Flying debrisfrom both Larson's car and the fence struck dozens of spectators in thegrandstands.
Track president Joie Chitwood and NASCAR senior vice president of raceoperations Steve O'Donnell held a press conference several hours after theevent had concluded and was won by Tony Stewart. Chitwood revealed that 14injured fans were transported to nearby Halifax Health Medical Center as wellas other hospitals in the Daytona Beach area. Fourteen others were treated atthe racetrack's infield medical care center.
Chitwood did not reveal the conditions of those injured, but at least sevenof them were seriously hurt and two more were listed in critical condition.
"First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with our race fans,"Chitwood said.
Chitwood then noted, "We are in the process of repairing the facility and willbe ready to go racing tomorrow."
Larson's car tore a gaping hole in the catchfence, with the engine and one ofthe tires sheared off his vehicle and lodged in the fencing.
Chitwood said that track workers will not have enough time to repair thecross-over gate, which is located in the affected area on the frontstretch,for tomorrow's Daytona 500. A strip-fence will take its place. Chitwood alsostated that the grandstand seats located in the area where the injuriesoccurred will be available for 500-mile race.
"We don't anticipate moving any of our fans," Chitwood said. "We had oursafety protocols in place. Our security (officers) maintained a buffer thatseparates the fans from the fencing area. And with the fence being repairedtonight to our safety protocols, we expect to go racing tomorrow with nochanges."
NASCAR plans to investigate the accident and continue to work on its safetyinitiatives for both the competitors and the fans in attendance for races.
"As with any of these incidents, we will conduct a thorough review and workclosely with the tracks as we do for all of our events," O'Donnell said."We'll learn what we can and apply it for the future."