NASCAR Sprint Cup series rookie Michael McDowell escaped a massive crash in qualifying for the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
McDowell lost control of his No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota when entering Turn 1 on his second qualifying lap. He got loose while turning in and then his car turned right and went up the banking, hitting the SAFER barrier head on. The Toyota flipped several times before coming to rest on the apron.
Despite the magnitude of the impact, McDowell was able to walk out of the car and into the ambulance by himself before being taken to the infield care centre.
"Something just didn't feel quite right and I told the guys 'men, this thing is really tight, I'm going to run another lap.'" McDowell said.
"Then I got down in there and it started to pull right on me, I tried to gather it up and as soon as I turned back to the right the front tyres hooked up and we were rolling down from there. I didn't loose consciousness. I felt every roll down the hill.
"Thanks to the guys back in the shop. They make these cars extremely safe and spend the extra time padding everything up and for me to walk away from that wreck right there is unbelievable. I'm just going to count my blessings today and thank god for this opportunity to walk away from that wreck."
McDowell praised NASCAR's work on safety, which was the main reason for building the new Cup car that allowed him to survive the crash. Many consider his wreck to be the worst ever seen on a 1.5-mile track, and certainly the biggest test to the safety of the new car.
"Obviously the Car of Tomorrow has a lot of room in it and allows for some impact like you saw today," he added. "I think the advancements in the seats and the helmets and the headrests also helped.
"For sure it was a violent wreck and I went through all of it and I'm standing here right now no problems. Maybe a few little bumps and bruises but other than that it's fine. That's amazing to me."
McDowell made his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut at Martinsville, finishing 26th. He has his start guaranteed in the race due to his car's status in the owners standing, and he is expected to go to his back-up car for Saturday's practice.
Qualifying came to a halt following the crash while track crews worked on repairing the SAFER barrier, which will be replaced overnight.