CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Ryan Newman said he will be ready to race when NASCAR resumes competition, which could be as early as May 17.
Newman suffered a head injury in the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway. The Indiana native spent less than 48 hours in the hospital before walking out holding hands with his two daughters.
Ross Chastain drove the No. 6 Ford in place of Newman for three races before the NASCAR season was suspended March 13 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking before NASCAR's iRacing event Sunday, Newman said on Fox Sports that he will be ready to race when NASCAR calls drivers back to the track.
“That’s the absolute plan for sure. I am healthy," Newman said. “I have been blessed with another layer of this (coronavirus) situation giving me more time to heal and I look forward to being back in the seat, for sure.”
Newman was in a spectacular crash while racing for the lead on the final lap of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17. His airborne car was hit by another car, his Ford rolled several times and came to a stop on his roof. It took several minutes to get him out of the car and transferred to a Florida hospital, where his condition was considered serious but not life-threatening.
NASCAR said in a statement that Newman has not yet been cleared by the series to return.
“We share Ryan’s enthusiasm in his return to the track," the statement said. "We look forward to Ryan returning to racing as soon as he is medically cleared to race.”
Newman used his brief appearance on Fox Sports to give thanks again for the outpouring of support he has received during his recovery.
“I am so excited and thankful all at the same time to be healthy and at some point get back in a race car when the world starts turning again,” Newman said. “And thankful for all the people and support that I've got from family, fans, you name it that have prayed for me, you name it, you have given me this multitude of miracles.”
NASCAR is hoping to resume its season without spectators as early as May 17. The situation remains fluid as the sanctioning body hammers out a new schedule and finds states that will host the series, and teams return to their race shops.