Ryan Newman doesn’t recall much, if anything, from the Daytona 500.
He obviously knows he was involved in a last-lap wreck while battling for the lead. He has seen the replay videos.
Other than that, most of the season-opening race is still missing from Newman’s memory. When the time is right, he’ll watch it over from start to finish.
“That’s the part, for me, that makes me feel how special it really was – the miracle part of it,” Newman said Thursday in a Zoom teleconference. “Because I don’t remember anything about being in the hospital. I couldn’t tell you who came to visit me. I couldn’t tell you who was in the room. But I do remember putting my arms around my daughter’s chests and walking out and holding their hands as I did that. And that tells me that God was involved, that tells me that I was blessed in more ways than one. … I feel like a complete walking miracle.”
Newman was treated and released from Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Florida, within two days. The season opener took place Feb. 17. News of his departure came Feb. 19.
Thankfully for Newman, he did not sustain any internal organ damage or broken bones despite the severity of the crash. He did have a head injury. Some doctors told him it was a concussion; others thought it was not.
So, Newman self-diagnosed the injury as a “brain bruise.”
“The reality is you need to give time for a bruise to heal, and what I needed was time for my brain to heal,” Newman said. “I’ve really felt completely normal since, I guess in the last eight weeks. No problem, no question. That doesn’t mean that I was, and that’s why when it comes time to having a bruise heal, especially one you can’t see, you have to be extra careful.”
And he was – still is.
Before NASCAR’s COVID-19 competition pause back in March, Newman actually did a private test at Darlington Raceway. The run ended up being about 30 laps total at speed. It was Newman’s first time behind the wheel of a race car on track since Daytona International Speedway.
“I was so excited and ready to go and just kind of prove myself that I actually had to slow myself down and make sure that I didn’t go out there and fence it on the first lap by trying too hard,” Newman said. “So I never felt like I had to be apprehensive towards it, other than the fact that I wanted to make sure that I didn’t mess up my own test. I was there to prove that I was valid in the seat again.”
NASCAR medically cleared Newman three weeks ago – just three days before the sanctioning body released its return-to-racing schedule. Newman, along with the Cup Series as a whole, will make an official comeback in Sunday’s The Real Heroes 400 at Darlington (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
The 42-year-old could not be more excited to get back inside his No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.
“I’m hoping to do every lap,” Newman said, “and then one more after that.”