NASCAR's Daytona 500 to go ahead despite mega-crash


DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 23: Kyle Larson, driver of the #32 Clorox Chevrolet, and Regan Smith, driver of the #7 Clean Coal Chevrolet, are involved in an incident at the finish of the NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway on February 23, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida.



NASCAR has confirmed that the Daytona 500 race will go ahead as planned despite Saturday's accident that injured at least 28 people.

A horrific crash on the last lap of the Nationwide Series caused driver Kyle Larson's car to split in half and become lodged in the protective fence that separates fans.

Debris from the crash flew up to 20 feet into the crowd.

More from GlobalPost: VIDEO: Crash injures fans at NASCAR's Nationwide Series.

Officials told Fox Sports that 14 people were treated on site and another 14 transported to local hospitals. ESPN reports that a 14-year-old boy was in critical but stable condition and a man was in surgery for a head injury.

"Stuff was flying everywhere," said spectator Terry Huckaby, whose brother was sent to the hospital with a leg injury, reports the Chicago Tribune.

"Tires were flying by and smoke and everything else."

Crews worked late into the evening to repair the fencing and poles damaged in the crash.

Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR senior vice president for racing operations told Fox Sports that the facility was ready for the 55th Daytona 500 race later on Sunday afternoon.

"We worked closely with the racetrack. We are confident in the repairs that were put in place. It’ll be an ongoing process for us with the racetrack," O'Donnell said.

"We’ve got a (Research and Development) Center up in Concord, NC, that specializes in looking at things like this. We’ll bring in the best and brightest, and anything that we can learn we’ll be put in place. We’re ready to go racing at 1 o’clock today, but again our thoughts are with those affected."

The race is gearing up to launch driver Danica Patrick into a new level of stardom.

She was the first woman to win 'pole position' for the Daytona 500, which means she'll be starting the race in the best possible position with an entire racing nation watching in the stands and on TV.

More from GlobalPost: Danica Patrick in NASCAR and her top 5 career moments (VIDEO)

"Danica has immense ‘star power,’ winning the pole at Daytona solidifies her as a competitor, but it also adds to the drama of the 2013 NASCAR narrative,” Jon Flack, President, Americas & Chief Operating Officer at Just Marketing International(JMI) told Forbes.

"That’s not the only good news from the weekend. The Gen-6 car looked great, while the improved cameras – especially the Gyro-Cam – allowed us to witness Danica’s landmark pole like never before. We expected NASCAR’s efforts to enhance the fan experience through technological advancements and digital marketing to deliver and it did. This is going to be an exciting year for NASCAR."