Daytona Beach, Fla. — An Angier man was among dozens of spectators injured by flying debris Saturday following a crash in the last lap of the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway.
A last-lap accident sent rookie Kyle Larson's car sailing into the fence that separates the track from the seats, and large chunks of Larson's car landed in the grandstands. The car itself had its entire front end sheared off, with a piece of burning engine wedged through a gaping hole in the fence.
The accident spread into the upper deck, and emergency crews treated fans on both levels. A forklift was used to pluck Larson's engine out of the fence.
Dan Germeroth was hit by a tire and knocked unconscious, according to his wife, Debby Germeroth. More than 30 spectators were injured, and Germeroth was among the dozen or so taken to Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach.
"He was taken in as a 'John Doe' because he was unconscious," Debby Germeroth said.
Hospital officials said he was ready to be discharged late Saturday after being treated for various injuries, including cuts on his face.
Daytona President Joie Chitwood waited nearby as emergency workers attended to those in the stands. Across the track, fans pressed against a fence and used binoculars trying to watch. Wrecked cars and busted parts were strewn across the garage.
"It's a violent wreck. Just seeing the carnage on the racetrack, it's truly unbelievable," driver Justin Allgaier said.
The accident occurred with Regan Smith leading as he headed out of the final turn to the checkered flag. He admittedly tried to block Brad Keselowski to preserve the win.
As the cars began wrecking all around Smith and Keselowski, Stewart slid through for the win, but Larson plowed into Keselowski and his car was sent airborne into the stands. When Larson's car came to a stop, it was missing its entire front end.
The 20-year-old, who made his Daytona debut this week, stood apparently stunned, hands on his hips, several feet away from his car, before finally making the mandatory trip to the care center. He later said his first thought was with the fans.
"I hope all the fans are OK and all the drivers are all right," Larson said. "I took a couple big hits there and saw my engine was gone. Just hope everybody's all right."
Dan Germeroth has been attending races at Daytona for 10 years, and his wife said she never expected him to be hurt following the sport he loves.
"It was kind of an unnerving phone call to get," Debby Germeroth said.