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NEW YORK — NASCAR driver and South Bend native Ryan Newman says he’s very lucky to still be alive after his horrifying crash in last month’s Daytona 500. In his first public interview since the crash, Newman told NBC’s “Today” show on Wednesday that the only injury he has is a bruised brain.

“It’s still humbling to watch (the crash) and know that I’m sitting here, without a headache, which is amazing,” Newman said. “It’s a miracle on so many levels.”

While leading on the final lap of the race, Newman was spun out. He crashed into the wall and flipped into the air. He was then hit — in the driver door — by another car traveling 190 miles per hour, and then flipped again before landing upside down.

Just two days later, he was able to walk out of the hospital.

He credits the advanced technology in NASCAR that saved his life.

“From the tracks, to the safety personnel, the drivers, to inside the cars, the cockpits, the containment seats that we have, there are so many levels of things that happened in the last 20 years that I’ve been a part of the sport that helped me be able to sit here today.”

When asked why, after this horrible crash, he wants to return to the race car, Newman said it’s because of his love for the sport.

“It’s been painful to be out of the car, and to not do what I’ve done for so many years,” he said. “I started racing when I was four years old. It’s kind of just who I am.”