Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
Despite a horrific final lap crash during Saturday's Nationwide Series race that injured at least 28 spectators, the 55th Daytona 500 will go on as schedule
The news come from a press conference held Sunday morning by Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood, who reiterated that 14 people were treated on-site for injuries while 14 others were transferred to local medical facilities for further care.
However, due to privacy laws Chitwood was unable to further comment further on the exact nature of the injuries suffered.
While not going into great detail, Chitwood also did acknowledge that debris did reach the upper section of the Daytona grandstand and that people from both the upper and lower portions of the grandstand area had been transported to hospitals.
According Chitwood the catch-fence that was damaged in Saturday's wreck was 22-feet high across the frontstretch and had been installed in 2010 - one year after Carl Edwards had a similar accident at Talladega where his car got airborne and sent pieces and parts flying into the grandstand injuring spectators.
"Following the 2009 Carl Edwards incident at Talladega, we brought in a structural engineering firm to review all of our fencing arrangements," Chitwood said Sunday at Daytona. "We took all of them recommendations they made, and we actually installed new fencing at Daytona International Speedway prior to the 2010 season. So we felt like we had done everything with respect to protocol in making sure we were prepared for (Saturday's) event."
Because of time restrictions the track was not able to reinstall the crossing gate that allows access to the track back into the fence. Straight fencing was installed for the Daytona 500 and no consideration was given to removing the other crossing gates located on the track.
Track workers repaired the section of the catch-fence overnight and after NASCAR officials inspected the repairs and met with Chitwood Sunday morning, the Daytona 500 will continue as originally scheduled with the race set to start at 1:29 p.m. ET.
"I think we've done a great job being prepared for our racing events," Chitwood said. "Incidents do happen and I think those are the exception. If you look at our 55 years in the business, we have a pretty good safety track record. I think we're prepared today."
Accommodations have been made for those who were injured. As for fans that are attending the 500 and are uncomfortable with their seats, the track is happy to work with them to find alternative seating.
"Some of the patients who were released late last night and early this morning will be coming back to attend the event, and we're going to make sure they've got good accommodations to enjoy the event," Chitwood said. "That was a key on some of the guests that were released; they wanted to make sure they could come back to the race today."
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