Daytona NASCAR Sprint Cup race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr said Austin Dillon’s massive accident at the finish line of the Coke Zero 400 genuinely shocked him.
Earnhardt, who scored his 25th career win at the top level of US stock cars, admitted that he feared for the welfare of both Dillon and the fans after he watched the crash unfold in his mirrors.
"It was real frightening," said Earnhardt. "You're just on the verge of tears, to be honest with you. I saw everything in the mirror pretty clearly – the car went up in the air pretty high.
"I could see his black object hit the fence, and I've never seen our rollcages handle those catchfences very well. I was just real scared for whoever that was – I didn't even know which car it was – just very scared for that person.
"When a car gets that high, what's it done to the catchfencing and the spectators? I didn't know if he was in range of the few seats we've got here. It's just real scary.
"When I pulled down into pitroad, Jimmie [Johnson, his teammate] came round to my car and he was real frightened as well. I saw on the Jumbotron [big screen] my crew helping Dillon, so they said he was good.
"You hope everyone is OK there, the racing doesn't matter any more."
Johnson "expected the worst"
Johnson also voiced his concern about the way Dillon's car took off and impacted the catchfencing with huge violence.
"I'm shocked that Austin Dillon is even alive [after] what he went through," said Johnson. "Just a frightening moment. I saw it in the mirror and, man, I expected the worst when I came back around.
"I don't know how you help the cars in that scenario. Slow us down, certainly. Slow us down, we get further below the lift-off point, and that could be something to look at.
"I was shocked to see the car get off the ground as it did from that type of contact."