Though it will most certainly be overshadowed by another scary wreck on the last lap, Denny Hamlin's head-first collision with the tire barrier at Watkins Glen on Monday was one of the ugliest moments of the NASCAR season.
Hamlin blew a tire coming down the hill to Turn 1, which in turn cut his brake line. With no brakes and still at nearly full speed, Hamlin went straight for the barrier and hit head-on.
"This was just terrifying, because you know there'’s nothing you can do and you’'re headed straight for the fence," said Hamlin, who emerged from the wreck unscathed. "That was the scariest I’'ve been in my car.”"
The Watkins Glen crowd erupted in cheers when it saw Hamlin climb out of his car and wave to the fans – and Hamlin was relieved, too.
"“I feel better than I thought I would," he said. "It felt like it was slow motion for me, but can'’t say enough for all the safety precautions NASCAR takes, and obviously the wall helped a lot getting that (hit) dampened a little bit."
Hamlin said he uses a seven-point safety harness instead of the standard five-point belts, and used his televised interview with ESPN to encourage other drivers to do the same.
"It just really softened the blow quite a bit," he said. "A lot of these guys run five-point, and it's just not enough."
Though Hamlin's day on the track was disappointing, he caught a break later when Paul Menard suffered a similar fate. With five laps to go, Menard blew a tire and hit the wall.
Menard is Hamlin's primary competition for the final Chase wild card spot at the moment. And looking at the NASCAR point standings, Hamlin's best bet to make the Chase comes via that route.
Here's a video of Hamlin's wreck: