Daytona Speedway officials: Fence worked as planned during Wednesday's crash

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A part of the safety fence at Daytona International Speedway was damaged Wednesday in a crash during practice for the Daytona 500 race coming up on Sunday.

WFTV reporter Blaine Tolison checked with track officials to make sure the catch fence and everything else is ready for the Budweiser duel qualifier Thursday night, and the Daytona 500 on Sunday.

Both cars and racing trucks returned to the track for practice at the Daytona International Speedway Thursday. There were no issues, unlike Wednesday.

Car No. 30, driven by Parker Kligerman, was in a group with Paul Menard, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano and other drivers when the crash happened.

Kligerman's car flipped, striking the fence, landing on Menard's No. 27 car and striking the fence in the same place as the Nationwide crash that injured several spectators in the stands almost one year ago.

Witnesses of Wednesday’s crash said it was a frightening scene.

“I saw one of the cars start to swerve and then he hit the wall and came up the fence,” said race fan Jennie Antonucci. “I was worried that some of the pieces from the cars were going to come up and hit us.”

NASCAR legend, Richard Petty, told WFTV crashes like Wednesday's one have to be put in perspective.

"You got to look at way back when we used to run here and they didn't even have a catch fence, OK?" Petty said.

Petty said he has watched the racing progress since he was behind the wheel decades ago. He believes the track's current safeguards are working.

"When they had the wreck last night, it kind of showed that, 'Hey yeah it might have tore up the fence, but nothing got through the fence.' If there'd been a bunch of spectators there we would have still been OK," Petty said.

A larger and stronger catch fence was installed after the crash at the Nationwide race last year and it appears no debris made it into the stands in Wednesday's crash.

“I didn’t see anything come through the fence. There was a lot of debris inside the fence but not outside,” witness Phil Mattice said. “There were some big, gaping holes left in it.”

Each driver was cleared after being evaluated by medics and speedway officials said the fence performed the way it was designed to.

Crews quickly repaired the fence and practice resumed a short time later.

In last year's crash at the Nationwide, which is held the day before the Daytona 500, dozens were injured when Kyle Larson’s car lifted off the ground and slammed into the fence, sending the car's front wheels, engine and other debris into the stands.

One of the victims of the Nationwide crash said her injuries are still affecting her nearly a year later.

"It was a horror story. I relive it every day. I have scars, too, that I'll live with for the rest of my life," said victim Whitney Turner.

Turner was visiting from Indiana to watch her first ever Daytona 500 from the front row.

The trip had been a birthday gift from her father, but the vacation of a lifetime quickly turned into a horrific scene as car parts started to fly everywhere.

Debris shattered Turner's leg and sliced her Achilles tendon.

"I had debris lying all around me. I look down and my leg's bleeding. I didn't know what at that point what was wrong with me," she said.

Turner has had to go through five surgeries and intense physical therapy, but she said she hopes the accident has helped NASCAR and speedway officials make sure their fans are safe.

As for attending another race, Turner said she has always been a race fan and always will be, but she doesn't think she'll sit in the front row again.

Turner is part of a lawsuit still pending against the speedway.