Ryan Newman's terrifying Daytona 500 crash is being compared to the one that killed Dale Earnhardt, and some say the safety rules it spurned may have saved Newman's life

ryan newman dale earnhardt
  • NASCAR driver Ryan Newman was hospitalized and left in a "serious condition" Monday night following a devastating wreck during the final lap of the Daytona 500.
  • The 42-year-old driver spun out at 190 miles per hour before his car flipped into the air and landed on its roof.
  • The circumstances surrounding the crash were eerily reminiscent of the 2001 Daytona 500 wreck that killed NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt.
  • Many credited the safety rule changes prompted by Earnhardt's death with saving Newman's life 19 years later.
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NASCAR driver Ryan Newman was hospitalized and left in a "serious condition" Monday night following a devastating wreck during the final lap of the Daytona 500.

The scene reminded racing fans of a similarly scary crash responsible for a NASCAR legend's untimely death 19 years earlier at the same race.

On February 18, 2001, Dale Earnhardt was killed in an accident during the last lap of the 43rd Daytona 500. Fellow driver Ken Schrader collided with the passenger side of Earnhardt's famous black No. 3 Chevrolet and sent "The Intimidator" headfirst into the wall.

Earnhardt was transported to the hospital and pronounced dead due to head injuries shortly thereafter. The tragedy prompted NASCAR officials to tighten their safety regulations.

NASCAR announced Monday night that Newman is expected to survive the wreck. And while the racing company has yet to release details regarding the extent of the 42-year-old driver's injuries or exactly how he sustained them, many fans have speculated that the more stringent safety rules put into effect after Earnhardt's death were responsible for saving Newman's life.

Arguably the most significant change NASCAR put into place in the wake of Earnhardt's death was the implementation of Head and Neck Support (HANS) devices in every car. The apparatus - which first became mandatory eight months after Earnhardt's fatal accident - is "a carbon-fiber and Kevlar collar with two tethers that connect to the driver's helmet" designed to secure the driver's head and prevent it from moving independently of their body, per Popular Mechanics.

NASCAR's top series has not seen a single crash-related death since mandating the use of HANS devices, and given the force behind Monday's accident, it's possible the instrument helped save Newman's life.

As is common practice after a serious accident, NASCAR has taken both Newman's and fellow driver Corey LaJoie's cars to its Research & Development Center to examine the vehicles, per Fox 46's Brett Baldeck. And in its most recent update on Newman's condition, NASCAR said in a statement that Newman was at Halifax Health Medical Center in Florida with injuries that were "not life threatening." 

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