(DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.) — Every seat will be filled at Daytona International Speedway Sunday after a team worked overnight to repair a fence that was breached in a horrific crash that injured at least 28 spectators in the grandstands.
Joie Chitwood III, president of Daytona International Speedway, said his team met with NASCAR officials at 8 a.m. EST Sunday to review the repairs, hours before 147,000 fans will fill the grandstand seats to watch the Daytona 500 race.
If fans are uneasy about their seating location today, Chitwood said his team would make “every accommodation we can” to move them.
The track became a disaster scene on Saturday when 12 cars became tangled in a fiery crash during the final lap of the nationwide race.
Pieces of rookie Kyle Larson’s shredded race car turned into shrapnel that flew into the stands, injuring at least 28 people.
At least 14 of the injured were transported to hospitals and more than a dozen others were treated at the speedway, Chitwood said.
“I do know that we transported individuals from lower level and upper level [of the grandstands],” he said.
Terry Huckabee, who was sitting in the grandstands with his brother, compared the scene to a “war zone.”
“I mean, a tire flying by and smoke and everything else,” he said.
Huckabee said his brother is recovering in the hospital after his leg was sliced open by the spray of debris.
The crash was apparently triggered when driver Regan Smith’s car, which was being tailed by Brad Keselowski on his back bumper, spun to the right and shot up the track.
Smith had been in the lead and said after the crash he had been trying to throw a “block.”
Larson’s car slammed into the wall that separates the track from the grandstands, causing his No. 32 car to go airborne and erupt in flames.
When a haze of smoke cleared and Larson’s car came to a stop, he jumped out uninjured.
His engine and one of his wheels were sitting in a walkway of the grandstand.
“I was getting pushed from behind,” Larson told ESPN. “Before I could react, it was too late.”
Tony Stewart pulled out the win, but in victory lane, what would have been a celebratory mood was tempered by concern for the injured fans.
“We’ve always known this is a dangerous sport,” Stewart said. “But it’s hard when the fans get caught up in it.”
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