DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Fans and crew members alike were stunned in the aftermath of the violent last-lap crash that occurred Saturday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway.
Immediately after the race, the frontstretch was littered with pieces of white debris - much as if a plane had crashed. Fans cheered as Kyle Larson climbed immediately from his car after hitting the fence, but attention quickly turned to those in the stands.
Emergency personnel could be seen rushing into the seats to aid fans. Some used fire extinguishers on the burning engine, which went through the fence. The infield grass was suddenly flooded with safety trucks, and some safety workers ran from the pits to the grandstands.
Crewmen from assorted race teams stood shoulder-to-shoulder with fans on pit road, staring across the racetrack as medics frantically worked on injured people in the stands. There was a murmur as shocked spectators turned to one another and asked what happened.
After injured fans were removed on stretchers, the engine was eventually taken away with a forklift and placed on a flatbed truck - with suspension parts still attached.
Long after the pits were cleared, fans in the fan zone lingered and had quiet conversations among themselves. Some took pictures and some gathered to watch replays of the incident on their cell phones.
Travis Smith was among the spectators in the main grandstands that saw the wreck unfold. He was with his family.
"The damn car went through the fence. It shattered everywhere. Tires went flying everywhere. Hit a bunch of people."
Smith said his cousin, Caroline Morris, 15, was injured, hit by debris in the forearm.
"It was nothing compared to other people. ... The last thing I remember, a tire was coming right at me. I turned my back and turned back around and it was panic."
He said he saw 4-5 people taken out on backboards.
Smith, 22, says he comes every year. He says he'll be back for the Daytona 500 tomorrow.
Drivers, used to the dangers of their high-speed sport, immediately expressed concern for the injured fans.
"Guess some debris went up there," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. "I'm worried about everybody up there."
"Just first and foremost, want to make sure anyone in the stands is OK and be thinking about them," Brad Keselowski said.