An emergency worker climbs the retaining wall to check a fire from the engine… (Joe Burbank / McClatchy-Tribune )
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The Daytona 500 was set to start as scheduled Sunday after repairs were made to the track's fence following a crash that injured at least 28 spectators.
"We worked late into the evening and are prepared to go racing today," Joie Chitwood, president of Daytona International Speedway, said at a news conference.
The race, which typically draws about 200,000 people, was scheduled to start at 1 p.m. EST under cloudy skies and a threat of thunderstorms.
A section of Daytona's front-stretch fence was torn out when the race car of Kyle Larson flew into the fence at the conclusion of the NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Saturday.
Debris from the car flew through and over the 22-foot-high fence into the grandstands, including one of the tires from Larson's No. 32 Chevrolet.
Although some reports said up to 33 people were hurt, Chitwood said he only could reconfirm that 14 spectators were taken to nearby hospitals and that an additional 14 were treated and released at the track.
"There could be other patients who self-admit" or sought medical help themselves, he said.
"Incidents do happen, and I think those are the exception, though," Chitwood said. "If you look at our 55 years in the business, we've got a pretty good safety track record. I feel like we're going to do a great job for our fans today."
Danica Patrick is on the pole for the race, the first time in Sprint Cup history that a woman has led the 43-car field to the green flag.
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