In the moments following Ryan Newman’s dramatic crash in the Daytona 500, viewers were on the edge of their seats as what many believed to be gasoline poured out of the car near an open flame while Newman was trapped inside. It turns out the situation wasn’t quite as dire as it seemed.
According to Fox NASCAR reporter Bob Pockrass, NASCAR has confirmed that the liquid was motor oil, which has a much higher flash point than fuel and poses a lower fire hazard than the more volatile E15 NASCAR engines run on.
Unlike most street cars, NASCAR Cup car engines use a dry sump oiling system with a remote expansion tank behind the driver that collects the oil, which is vented and allows the liquid to escape when a vehicle is upside down.
Newman’s fellow NASCAR Ford Mustang driver Brad Keselowski explained that the cars hold about six gallons and that the oil used is typically a light weight blend that flows like water when it’s hot, unlike what most people are used to seeing when they pour it out of a container.
Emergency crews reached Newman’s car in well under a minute, which gave them more than enough time to extinguish the small fire before the oil complicated the issue.
Newman was released from the hospital two days after the accident and confirmed that he sustained a head injury, but didn’t break any bones or suffer any internal injuries.