The NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway had everything, including the increased intensity of a regular-season finale, three-wide racing, a green-white-checkered finish, a last-lap pass and “the big one.” But most weren’t talking about any of those things or how Chris Buescher had won his third race out of the last five. Instead, everyone was focused on the terrifying late crash in which Ryan Preece got airborne and flipped an incredible 11 times.
Moments after the mangled No. 41 car came to rest on the infield grass, members of the 32-year-old driver’s team calmly tried to communicate with him.
“Talk to me if you can,” crew chief Chad Johnston requested of his driver over the radio.
“You copy, bud?” spotter Andy Houston asked a few seconds later.
“Talk to me, buddy,” Johnston repeated after 10 seconds of silence.
After another 10 seconds of no responses from the driver, the Houston and Johnston communicated with each other.
“I haven’t heard him. Have you heard him?” Johnston questioned.
“I have not heard him, no,” Houston responded.
“Key your mic if you can hear me,” the crew chief again inquired of his driver.
After several minutes of the safety crew working around the car, Preece exited from the window.
“He’s out,” the spotter reported.
“Yeah. He’s out,” Johnston confirmed. “That’s good.”
Knowing their driver was safely out of the car, the tone of the conversation changed.
“Yeah, 43 just got us at the wrong angle and turned us left,” the crew chief said.
“So much for staying on the f****** ground,” the spotter mentioned.
“Yeah, no s***,” Johnston replied.
“They’re going to kill somebody at one of these places,” Houston suggested.
“I have never seen a race car flip that many times,” Johnston said.
Preece Released After Spending Night in Hospital
Following a visit to the infield care center, Preece was transported via ambulance to Halifax Health Medical Center. He provided an update on his condition later in the evening of August 26.
“If you want to be a race car driver, you better be tough,” the Stewart-Haas Racing driver tweeted. “Dammit. Fast @racechoice @FordPerformance Mustang. I’m coming back.”
Overnight, the organization released a statement indicating Preece was “awake, alert, and mobile” and “had been communicating with family and friends.”
He received medical clearance from the doctors to return home to North Carolina and was released from the hospital about 12 hours after the crash.
Preece in Another Violent Crash Earlier in 2023
Preece’s crash at Daytona was his second major accident in 2023. Coincidentally, the other one also came on a superspeedway. In April at Talladega, the No. 41 car was in the middle of the pack on an overtime restart when Kyle Larson, running at the front of the field, got turned sideways and went down onto the apron and infield grass, before shooting back up the track directly in front of the SHR car, which T-boned the Hendrick Motorsports car in a violent impact.
NASCAR investigated the accident and, to its credit, made changes, including strengthening the passenger side of the car, which had suffered an unexpected intrusion on the No. 5 during the impact, as well as reducing the stiffness of the front clip.
Following the race at Daytona, officials announced it would be taking the No. 41 car back to the R&D Center for a more thorough inspection. There is no word on whether Preece will be ready for the upcoming race at Darlington, but at this point, that’s not important and all that really matters is that he walked away from a horrifying accident that could have had much more catastrophic results.