I’m OK: Dil­lon

NASCAR safety back in spotlight af­ter scary Day­tona crash

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY JENNA FRYER

Rid­ing bumper-to-bumper at nearly 200 mph, Austin Dil­lon was smack in the mid­dle of a pack of cars headed to the check­ered flag when he was sud­denly sent on the ride of his life.

A wreck that be­gan three rows ahead of him sent cars spin­ning all over the track. When one turned into him, the force flipped his car up and over two oth­ers. Dil­lon sailed nearly up­side down into the Day­tona In­ter­na­tional Speed­way catch­fence with such a hard hit that it nearly brought his 3,500-pound car to a sud­den stop.

The fence acted like a sling­shot, send­ing the sheared race car back onto the track, where it landed on its roof and was hit again while the en­gine block smoul­dered nearby. Left be­hind were a hand­ful of fans who re­ceived only mi­nor in­juries from the de­bris, and a gap­ing hole in the fence, the mesh torn away. And Dil­lon? Nearly ev­ery­one in NASCAR feared the worst look­ing at what re­mained of his car. In­stead, he was helped out by ri­val crews and he gave the “I’m OK” two-handed wave used by late bull­rider Frost Lane to the stunned crowd.

“It hap­pened so quick,” said Dil­lon. “You’re just hold­ing on and pray­ing that you get through it, get to race again,” he said. “I had just got done stop­ping and I had crew mem­bers ev­ery­where. I thought that was re­ally spe­cial and cool. It com­forted me pretty quick. And then I just wanted to get out of there and let the fans know that I was OK, let my par­ents and grand­par­ents know that I was all right.”

AP PHOTO

Austin Dil­lon goes air­borne Mon­day.

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