A Leslie couple is recovering at a Florida hospital after being injured in the daytona crash Saturday. Steve and Gaylene Johnson had been to several races during their ten days in Florida. It was part of a two week vacation. They were sitting in the upper deck, row 30, just in front of the finish line.
Then the number 32 car, driven by Kyle Larson, went airborne, smashing into the crowd barrier during the last lap of the Nationwide Series opener.
Gaylene told her sister Joyce Leach, "It sounded like an explosion." Leach learned Sunday morning that her sister and brother-in-law were injured when the 32 car went airborne and smashed into the crowd barrier at the end of saturday's race.
"The noise was just deafening. She said they had no time to react whatsoever," Leach said. The debris hit them instantly.
Both Gaylene and Steve Johnson were taken to the Halifax Medical Center in Daytona. Her mother Carlena Gnath says Gaylene was in the ICU for internal bleeding. "She's cut on her arm and has 30 stitches. He has 30 stitches in his head."
Gaylene was hit by a 75 pound steel plate that came flying off of the racecar. The plate also hit her husband,,, knocking him into the next row.
Leach says it's a gamble all race fans have to consider. "Any fan that goes there, they know the risks and to a fan it's worth it."
But despite that risk becoming a reality, the Johnsons remain loyal NASCAR fans, saying Galene wants "good seats, forever. For life."
The family was touched to find out Tony Stewart refused to celebrate his win after the crash.
As her husband's favorite driver, Gaylene hopes to get Stewart to visit her husband in the hospital. Leach says, "We know Gaylene though, she'll get it. She'll make it happen."
Gaylene is out of the ICU Sunday night and in her own room across the hall from her husband. They're still very bruised and scratched up, but Steve and Gaylene are both expected to make a full recovery.
We'll continue to follow their story.