NASCAR Daytona Coke Zero Sugar 400 Race Marked By Two Serious Crashes

Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Advance Auto Parts Ford, Ty Gibbs, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, and Christopher Bell, driver of the #20 Yahoo! Toyota, spin after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway on August 26, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Advance Auto Parts Ford, Ty Gibbs, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, and Christopher Bell, driver of the #20 Yahoo! Toyota, spin after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway on August 26, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images (Courtesy of NASCAR)

Anyone who gets behind the wheel of a race car knows that there’s no such thing as a no-risk race. Even modern safety precautions cannot prevent crashes, but thanks to those precautions, the odds of a driver walking away from a wreck are much higher. Just ask NASCAR drivers Ryan Preece and Ryan Blaney, both of whom survived terrifying crashes this past weekend at Daytona, and walked away shaken but relatively unscathed.

With six laps to go in Daytona’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 race on Saturday night, #41 Reece was mid-pack and trying to regain traction in his hunt for the playoffs when he was bumped from behind. The impact sent him into Chase Briscoe’s car and then careening into the air and onto the field, flipping 10 times through the grass into the back stretch. Reece was, astonishingly, able to exit the vehicle and was then sent to Halifax Health Medical Center where he was held overnight. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver tweeted on Sunday, “If you want to be a race car driver, you better be tough” and indicated that he’d be coming back, although not this season as the crash knocked him out of the playoff competition.

Preece’s crash was not the only heart-stopping near death moment in the race — during Stage Two, Ty Gibbs was possibly tapped by Christopher Bell as the pack leaders were moving to the front. The impact veered Gibbs straight into Team Penske driver, Ryan Blaney, which sending him careening into a wall in a terrifying crash that many are comparing to Dale Earnhardt’s fatal wreck at the same track. Blaney smashed into the wall and a total of 16 other reported cars were affected.  This was also the second crash for Blaney this summer, following an intense wreck in Nashville which does NOT have the SAFER barrier, sparking a vigorous discussion about safety measures in NASCAR.

Blaney’s crash:

In Blaney’s case, the SAFER barrier is credited with keeping the injury to a minimum and it’s certain that the overall efforts to make the vehicles safer is making a difference. But there’s also been talk of enforcing slower driving, re-evaluating the Super Speedways and more. The questions remain numerous, and each post-crash evaluation gives more insight and evidence to how to keep the drivers safe, but for these two racers, being able to go home at the end of the day has everything to do with luck (not to mention years of commitment to their safety).

About Andreanna Ditton 311 Articles
Andreanna Ditton is the Editorial Director and Editor-in-Chief for the Internet Brands Automotive Classifieds Group, of which RacingJunk is the flagship site. She has worked in the automotive publishing industry since 2007, focusing on racing and performance issues.

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