NASCAR safety team medical director talks about keeping drivers safe

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - It was a horrific way to end the Daytona 500.

Doctor Ryan Stanton, a Lexington emergency physician, is the medical director for NASCAR's safety team. Dr. Stanton talked to WKYT about the training that goes into keeping these drivers safe.

Driver Ryan Newman was rushed to the hospital after the terrifying crash on the final turn.

Roush Fenway Racing says Newman is now awake and talking with doctors.

The horrific crash had many NASCAR fans fearing for the worst.

Doctor Ryan Stanton, a Lexington emergency physician, is the medical director for NASCAR's safety team. Dr. Stanton talked to WKYT about the training that goes into keeping these drivers safe.

"Most of those wrecks that do take place, if you were in a passenger vehicle, would be a fatal collision," Dr. Stanton said. "But with the safety that's in place we are blessed by the fact that the major injuries are pretty rare and far between."

He cites improved barriers that absorb impact, and systems within those cars to keep drivers safe.

"A traditional car wreck here in town, we may be waiting five or 10 minutes," Dr. Stanton said. "For on track, 30 second response time is pushing it and how long do you have typically you have a vehicle or somebody there within five or 10 seconds."

Some of those firefighters and doctors are volunteers. At the track, because they love the sport.

"It's just an extension of what most of these men and women do on a daily basis," Dr. Stanton said. "They're part of a team that hasn't seen a death in almost 20 years since Dale Earnhart was killed in 2001."

Newman is still at Halifax Medical Center at Daytona Beach.

The family is thanking everyone for their concern and heartfelt messages.