Ryan Newman says he is healthy and ready to return to on-track action when NASCAR resumes, following his traumatic crash at the Daytona 500 which caused bruising to his brain.
Rousch Fenway Racing driver Newman was fighting eventual winner Denny Hamlin for the win on the last lap of NASCAR’s season-opener, when he was turned by Ryan Blaney and collected by Corey La Joie.
Newman admitted he was knocked unconscious during the incident and that he doesn’t remember part of the race.
Speaking to Fox Sports TV before today’s NASCAR Pro Invitational race, Newman said: “I’m so thankful and excited all at the same time.
“Excited to be healthy and at some point get back in the race car when the world starts turning again.
“And thankful for all the support that I’ve got, friends, family, fans, name it that have have prayed for me and given me this multitude of miracles that have given me the opportunity to get back in the seat at some point.”
Presenter Mike Joy then pushed Newman to clarify, asking “you say some point, does mean that when NASCAR returns to the track, which could be as early as May 17 we’re hearing, you’ll be behind the wheel?”
Newman replied: “That’s the absolute plan for sure.
“I’m healthy, I’ve been blessed with another layer of this situation given me more time to heal and I’m, looking forward to being back in the seat for sure.”
Following the announcement, it was announced by NASCAR that it has cleared Newman to race.
Newman was replaced by Chip Ganassi Racing affiliated driver Ross Chastain in the #6 car for the next three races, before the season was halted due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Chastain was due to race the Spire Motorsports car for one more race, the Coca Cola 600 at Daytona later in the year, as part of a tie-up with Ganassi.
However, the team has fired driver Kyle Larson due to a racial slur he made on an iRacing broadcast earlier in April, which led to a suspension by the team and NASCAR, before a number of partnerships terminated agreements with Larson.
Chastain is highly-rated by Ganassi and is favourite to take over the #42 seat for the remainder of the 2020 season when it gets going again.
In its last official communication about the calendar, NASCAR cancelled its Martinsville round on May 8-9, and said “our intention remains to run all 36 races, with a potential return to racing without fans in attendance in May at a date and location to be determined”.
Elsewhere, Alex Bowman won Sunday’s Pro Invitational race at Talladega.