Ryan Newman was rushed to hospital with serious injures after a horror crash which marred a dramatic end to the showpiece Daytona 500.
Newman looked on course to win America's biggest race, which was started by President Donald Trump, acting as starting marshall, before disaster struck on the final run to the finish line.
The 42-year-old, who last week announced an amicable split with wife Krissie, mother to his two daughters, leading the race approaching the finish line on the inside when he tangled with Ryan Blaney and was sent spinning into the wall.
His car flipped at around 190mph and was then hit by from behind by Corey LaJoie, sliding to a halt on its roof before bursting into flames which were quickly put out by safety crew rapidly on the scene.
Medical crews carefully looked to extract him from the mangled wreckage before he was rushed to a nearby hospital.
A black screen was erected around car to keep him from the view of media and fans whilst media members were asked to leave the pit lane immediately.
A statement from his team, Roush Fenway Racing, read: "Ryan Newman is being treated at Halifax Medical Center.
"He is in serious condition, but doctors have indicated his injuries are not life threatening.
"We appreciate your thoughts and prayers and ask that you respect the privacy of Ryan and his family during this time.
"We appreciate your patience and co-operation and we will provide more information as it becomes available."
A visibly shaken Blaney immediately reacted to the incident, explaining: "I got a push from the 11 and I kind of went low and Newman blocked down and I was kind of committed to pushing him to the win and we got kind of hooked up wrong.
"I hope he's alright, that looked pretty bad."
LaJoie, who hit Newman as he flipped, wrote on Twitter: "Dang I hope Newman is ok. That is worst case scenerio and I had nowhere to go but smoke."
Four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon, covering the race on FOX, said: "It was a phenomenal race, all the way until we came into the end over there.
"Safety has come a long way in this sport, but sometimes we are reminded that this is a very dangerous sport.
"Thoughts and prayers right now are with Ryan Newman and his family."
Denny Hamlin edged victory by just 0.01 seconds in one of the most dramatic finishes in the history of the iconic race.
Hamlin and his crew were initially criticised for celebrating and performing burnouts to the crowd as concern surrounding Newman grew.
Crews raced to the scene with visible damage to the roof on the right hand side of the car, where the drivers' seat is located, after the collision with a chasing car after he had flipped.
After leaving his car, Hamlin was left glued looking at the big screen, whilst team owner Joe Gibbs quickly issued an apology, stating they did not know the severity of the situation and were praying for Newman.
Race winner Hamlin, who won his third Daytona 500, said: "The finish, the history, that's all great. One day it will all sink in. But right now all I'm thinking about is Ryan Newman."
Tragedy has previously struck at the Daytona 500.
The legendary Dale Earnhardt, widely considered the greatest driver in NASCAR history, was tragically killed in a violent crash on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.
His death sparked a major overhaul of safety features in the sport, proving a landmark moment similar to the effect of Ayrton Senna's death in Formula One.
No driver has been killed in NASCAR since his tragic passing, with Newman himself walking away from a horrific crash in the 2003 Daytona 500.
Newman made his debut in the top NASCAR series back in 2000 and quickly became one of the most popular drivers in the sport.
He finished second in the series in 2014 and has recorded 18 race wins across over 600 races.