The Sprint Cup Series season starts now, with the Daytona 500 ready to roll at Daytona International Speedway (1 p.m. ET, Fox).
The green flag is expected to drop at 1:30 p.m. ET as the stars of NASCAR try to get off to a strong start in 2013.
Don't have access to a TV to watch the race live? Even if you do, join us Sunday at 1 p.m. ET as ESPN.com's writers and editors and fans of the sport dissect every aspect of the event!
Danger To Fans Always Present
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Bad as this was, it could have been much, much worse. There has been much worse, for auto racing spectators, in America and abroad.
Here, Saturday, the catch fencing was shredded and the steel reinforcement cables severed by the heaviest shrapnel I've ever seen come from disintegrating cars at a major race.
Yet that catch fencing did the best job, against a harsher test, that catch fencing has ever done. It was the result of years of research and improvement, after tragedies that took fans' lives.
p>The engine from Kyle Larson's car, and a wheel and A-frame assembly, tore through the fence. But they didn't go into the seats. They were contained on the concourse area in front of the stands. That was huge.
One tire did get into the stands, hitting one man in the head, according to witnesses. He reportedly was critically injured. Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood III reported 28 spectators injured, 14 transported to hospitals and 14 treated at track medical facilities.
Flying tires have been a race promoter's nightmare for decades. Most recently, tires and shrapnel kiting over fences caused two tragedies in less than a year in Indy car racing in 1998 and '99.
Three spectators were killed during a CART race at Michigan International Speedway in '98, by shrapnel that flew over the fence and into the stands.
Fan Video Shows Daytona Chaos
Wreck Mars Nationwide Race
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- A horrific multicar crash moments before the end of the Nationwide Series race Saturday at Daytona International Speedway injured at least 28 fans after Kyle Larson's car flew into the frontstretch catch fencing, shearing off its front half and leaving large pieces of the vehicle inside the fencing.
Speedway president Joie Chitwood said 14 of the injured spectators were transported off-property for medical attention and 14 were treated on site.
Seven were taken to Halifax Health Medical Center, two of which were in critical condition, hospital representative Byron Cogdell told ESPN. One adult suffered life-threatening head trauma but was later stabilized, while a 14-year-old was also in critical but stable condition.
At least one tire from Larson's car flew into the seating area at Daytona. Police officers and NASCAR safety officials quickly ran to the location where part of the car went through the fencing, destroying one section of the catch fence.
Bar Patrons Go Old-School
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- For years now, NASCAR execs have struggled with relocating the sport's "core fans."
Good news. I found them.
On Friday afternoon, as the next-to-last Daytona 500 practice session took place, Racing's North Turn Beach Bar & Grille was standing room only.
A group of women dressed in Dale Earnhardt GM Goodwrench gear drank Buds in a booth decorated with Intimidator gear. One wiped a tear from her eye, and it wasn't because of the onions on her burger. A group of thick-around-the-middle lawyers draped in motorcycle leathers described themselves as "Jeff Gordon fans and the original Wild Hogs." A tour bus of NASCAR tourists, all dressed in "Swedish Daytona Tour 2013" T-shirts, posed out front for a group photo with the North Turn neon sign.
In the middle of it all, a grandfather held his young grandson's hand as they slowly walked along the walls of the lobby, reading aloud the wallpaper-like newspaper clippings from the 1950s. "See this photo here?" the man said with a point to an autographed black and white photo of a white-helmeted Tim Flock, '52 and '55 NASCAR champion. "Your granddaddy saw him win a race right out here behind this restaurant."
"On the beach?"
"Yep, on the beach."
It Was Like A War Zone
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Terry Huckaby was 11 rows up from the frontstretch fence at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday when a long piece of flying metal gashed his brother's left leg.
The plumber from Hendersonville, Tenn., quickly ripped off his belt and wrapped it around the leg to stop blood gushing from a cut that went from his brother's left hip to the knee.
As he stepped back to let track emergency workers take care of his brother, 53-year-old Eddie Huckaby of Krum, Texas, Terry was overwhelmed by the chaos.
"Stuff was flying everywhere,'' Terry told ESPN. "It was like you was in a war zone or something. Tires were flying by and smoke and everything else.
"When I say war zone, there was smoke from a motor. You've got to realize a motor was sitting in the stands. A wheel -- I don't mean a tire -- a wheel with a hub hanging onto it and debris everywhere ... and smoke and people upset. It was kind of scary.''
The chaos began as a freight train of cars raced to the finish line in the Nationwide Series opener. A multicar incident was triggered when race leader Regan Smith tried to block Brad Keselowski, sending Kyle Larson's car careening into the frontstretch catch fence.