Ryan Newman is looking forward to racing at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, but still can’t remember the end of his last NASCAR race.
Newman suffered a brain injury during a dramatic last lap crash at the Daytona 500 in February that sent his car flipping down the track and onto its roof in flames, requiring his extraction from the upside down vehicle.
The 42-year-old said he can’t recall anything from that final lap until he left the hospital three days later.
“I don’t remember anything about being in the hospital. I couldn’t tell you who came to visit me. I couldn’t tell you who was in the room, but I do remember putting my arms around my daughters and walking out and holding their hands as I did that, and that tells me that God was involved,” Newman said during a conference call with reporters Thursday.
Newman’s not sure if the memory issue is due to what he calls a “brain bruise,” because it was never definitively diagnosed as a concussion, or the medically-induced coma he said he was put in.
“I was just treated so that I could be calm so that they would kind of numb my brain, so to speak, so that I could just sit there and rest. I wouldn’t call it a vegetative state, but I wasn’t a fruit either,” he joked.
He hasn’t watched the entire race, in which he was battling for the win at the time of the accident, but has seen video of the crash and said he just can’t believe it happened.
“Like it was kind of there’s no deja vu when there’s no deja. It was just kind of like, ‘All right, I believe you.’ It’s crazy. I’m happy I’m here.”
Newman thanked all of the rescue workers and medical professionals that helped him and said he’s been perfectly fine for the past two months while fishing, farming and helping to homeschool his daughters.
“I feel like a complete walking miracle.”
Newman was at the track in for NASCAR’s last race n Phoenix before the season was suspended.
(Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Even though he’s never won at Darlington, Newman said it is his favorite track to race at and, coincidentally, was where he ran a few test laps back in March to prove his fitness to rejoin the series.
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“My first five laps of my 20-lap run were quicker than the pole-winning car from last fall, so I can handle the speed. “
That’s exactly what he’ll need to do from the get-go on Sunday, because there is no practice or qualifying before the race. The starting lineup was set by a random draw that put him in 21st position.
Newman said it will be a challenge, but not a huge one, and that drivers should need just a few laps to come up to full speed where they’re pushing their cars right up against the wall.
“You have to work your way into that level of confidence and we’ll have plenty of laps in Darlington to do that on Sunday.”
Despite being on the sidelines for two months, Ryan said he’s physically fit to finish the race in his Roush Fenway Racng Ford Mustang without needing a relief driver.
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“I’m hoping to do every lap and then one more after that. I think they are having a victory lap still. I was ready to do that in Daytona.”
As far as his future in NASCAR beyond this eventful season is concerned, Newman said he still feels like he’s a 16-year-old who just got his license whenever he gets in the car and has no intention of giving up racing anytime soon.
“I have a goal in my life to be a Cup champion and I feel like I’m with a team and have the opportunity to do that.”
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