CHARLOTTE, N.C. — NASCAR driver Ryan Newman said Wednesday that he suffered a bruised brain and was knocked unconscious during his crash on the last lap of the Daytona 500, but said he plans to return to racing "as soon as I possibly can."
Newman sat down with NBC's TODAY for an exclusive interview, his first since that horrific crash. During the conversation, Newman explained that the rollcage of his No. 6 car was "compromised" and that Corey LaJoie's car actually hit his seat during the collision.
"It takes time for it to heal," Newman said. "I was knocked out. There was a point where I don't remember a part of the race. Realistically, I feel so lucky. On so many levels, I feel so lucky. You look at the crash and you think that is spectacular in a bad way. You look at the car afterwards, you think about all the things that happened right for me to be sitting here."
Newman was leading the race coming to the checkered flag when contact with Ryan Blaney sent his No. 6 Ford sliding into the outside wall. His car went airborne and was slammed into by Corey LaJoie on the driver's side before sliding on its roof and coming to a stop.
Newman was released from a Florida hospital less than a week after the crash. He made his first appearance at a race track last weekend in Phoenix, but there's still no timetable for his return to driving.
"I don't know yet. We're working on it," Newman said. "As soon as I possibly can."
When asked why he wanted to get back into the car, Newman said, "I love it," explaining that it's "kind of who I am."
Ross Chastain has been Newman's substitute driver in three races and will again fill that role this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.