NASCAR Cup Series
Race Results: NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona
Aug 27, 2023
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Ryan Preece suffered one of the wildest and most violent flips in recent memory during the final laps of Saturday night’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
On Lap 157 of the 163-lap event, Preece’s No. 41 Ford Mustang shot down the track in the middle of the pack racing down the backstretch, making contact with SHR teammate Chase Briscoe. The two cars shot down into the infield grass and over the infield road course utilized for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The transition from grass to asphalt back to grass sent Preece’s car airborne. Once it returned to the ground, the car hit directly on the driver-side window and was then sent into a dizzying series of barrel rolls that saw his car flip over nearly a dozen times before coming to a rest.
Preece was able to climb from his mangled car and taken to the infield care center, where he was then transported to a local hospital for further evaluation. SHR competition director Greg Zipadelli told Racing America that Preece was alert and talking but was shaken up from the wild ride.
At 11:52 p.m. ET, Preece posted the following message to social media, providing a small insight into his condition.
UPDATE (2:20 AM ET): Stewart-Haas Racing says Ryan Preece is awake, alert, and mobile, but will remain overnight at Halifax Health Medical Center for continued observation. He will undergo further observation by medical personnel later this morning. An update will be provided in the afternoon.
UPDATE #2 (10:52 AM ET): Stewart-Haas Racing says that Ryan Preece was discharged from Halifax Health Medical Center earlier this morning, after his brutal crash late in Saturday's NASCAR Cup Series event at Daytona. Preece is currently on his way home to North Carolina.
Once checked and released from the care center, Briscoe expressed his concern and support for his teammate, saying he was not able to talk to him while he was in the care center.
“Obviously, Ryan got turned or something and came across my nose and then we all started wrecking,’ said Briscoe. “Just thinking about him and his family, you know that’s a teammate there. Just super unfortunate to see that happen to anybody, let alone a teammate. Hopefully he’s OK. Just thinking about him and praying for him.”
Briscoe was sent airborne in the 2022 running of the Coke Zero Sugar 400 after getting spun off Turn 4, however his car did not flip like Preece’s.
“We can’t wreck cars like that every time we come to a superspeedway,” he said. “These cars, with how the bottom is, as soon as they get any air it just flips them right over. Whenever you’re running 190 mph and you go airborne, it’s not good. Especially, when there’s grass and stuff involved. We definitely need to do something. I don’t know what we can do, but we need to do something.”
Drew Blickensderfer, crew chief on the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 10 Ford, told Racing America that whenever the Gen 7 cars get airborne and flip, the safety measures implemented to keep the car on the ground are usually working properly until there are other circumstances that come into play, adding he feels the new car does a better job of keeping the it on the ground than the previous generation car.
“When they flip it’s because they come across at a bad angle when the flaps and everything are doing their job and they got hit by another car,” said Blickensderfer. “Every time this car has gone upside down it’s been a weird circumstance where everything on the car is doing its job to keep it down and another car hits them in a vulnerable spot when they are sideways. I’m not sure how you can control that.”
Following the race win, RFK Racing crew chief Scott Graves watched his driver and car flip down the frontstretch during the 2022 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He said NASCAR has worked hard and quickly to address safety concerns with the Gen 7 car.
“NASCAR has been very responsive trying to, when something does come up, react to it,” said Graves. “I don't have a lot of details on the 41 or what happened tonight. Hopefully everything is okay there with Ryan. So far from what I've seen, it's been very safe. Obviously, like I say, there were some issues. I feel like NASCAR has reacted fairly quickly to those things to try to address them.”
Buescher said he had not seen a video of Preece's incident and he had no interest in seeing it in the moment. Recalling his flip in last year's Coca-Cola 600, he said that wreck "knocked me around a good bit and jarred me."
"I'm appreciative of how safe our race cars are," said Buescher. "I think as an industry sometimes we forget that it is dangerous still, and that can certainly lead to some of our wilder moments. It's a dangerous sport. We know that getting in. Sometimes you push it a little too far to the back of our minds. Got to remember it."
Photo credit NBC broadcast screengrab