An exciting night of racing at South Boston Speedway (VA) quickly turned scary, as Jessica Dana suffered a fiery crash during Saturday’s Limited Sportsman feature at the 0.400-mile oval.
The incident occurred near the halfway mark of the 50-lap feature, as Dana made contact with another competitor battling for the third spot on the frontstretch. The contact sent Dana spinning towards the inside retaining wall, where she made heavy contact.
“I think it was just good, hard racing,” Dana told Speed51. “There are a handful of drivers that can all win at South Boston. We keep switching it up, who is running up front. It was on a restart, we were all running identical times. If you were going to make up any positions, it was going to be on the start.
“I could sit here and I could place blame, but at the end of the day, we go out there and choose to race,” Dana added. “Stuff like this unfortunately happens. I got the wheel knocked out of my hands and was sent into the inside wall. Unfortunately, the track has a pedestrian walkway opening on the inside wall that they don’t close off or anything, and that’s where I hit.”
The impact ruptured the fuel cell on her Lee Pulliam Performance entry, and the spilled fuel soon ignited in a trail leading up to Dana’s battered race car.
While Dana successfully made a hasty exit from the race car before the fire could reach her, it still felt like an eternity to her.
“When I was trying to climb out – it’s the only time it’s ever happened – my Hybrid [restraint] got stuck on the seat,” she explained. “I was actually stuck in the car, halfway out, and had to crawl back into the car. I didn’t panic until that point.
“They said ‘You’re on fire,’ I dropped the window net and I was getting out as calmly as I could. When you start panicking, that’s when things start going wrong. I got caught on the seat and I couldn’t get out. At that point, I thought, ‘Oh, gosh, this is really bad.’ For me, sitting in the car, it felt like an eternity getting out of that thing. Watching the video, it didn’t take me that long actually. I was okay.”
Dana extricated herself from the car in time to avoid any burns, but she did suffer a foot injury in the initial impact. Dana tweeted Monday morning that she is “in a boot and on crutches but I plan on being back in the car as soon as possible.”
Thank you for all your prayers, I’m home and okay. This was definitely a wreck I’ll never forget. I’m in a boot and on crutches but I plan on being back in the car as soon as possible.
Beyond grateful for @LeePulliam11 and everyone at LPP for building safe cars! pic.twitter.com/yQukSXrWMH
— Jessica Dana (@jessicadana12_) June 3, 2019
As for now, Dana is unclear on the timetable while undergoing further testing and examination, but hopes to be back behind the wheel in a matter of weeks.
“I’m going to schedule an MRI so they can see what’s going on with my foot,” said Dana. “For precautions right now, I’m in a boot and on crutches to keep weight off of it. They said it’s at least a couple or a few weeks out. I’m hoping I should be good to go in three to four weeks, but I’ll better know what’s going on when I go back in next week.”
Outside of that, Dana is thankful to avoid more serious injury and grateful for her Lee Pulliam Performance team and the safety equipment installed in her car.
“Thankfully, Lee builds really safe cars,” said Dana. “ISP has done an incredible job building these seats. I don’t have a concussion, I’m a little bit bruised, I’m not really sore. I feel like the car and the seat and everything did its job in terms of keeping me safe.”
Dana visited victory lane three times in 2018 with the Limited Sportsman division at South Boston, including a win in the 75-lap Limited Sportsman feature in conjunction with the South Boston 200 Late Model Stock event. Even after Saturday’s incident, Dana says she has plenty of races left to win.
“I plan on coming back and getting some redemption.”
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo