Blaney was trying to give the car of Newman, a fellow Ford driver, a nudge toward the finish line on Monday but instead it spun sideways, hit a wall and flipped over. Newman’s car then was sent airborne after it was struck by LaJoie’s Ford and skidded upside down in a shower of sparks and flames.
After Newman was extricated from his car and taken by ambulance from the track in Florida, it wasn’t until approximately two hours later that official word arrived that he was alive. That was followed by more moments of relief and delight at Newman’s surprisingly good condition, and on Thursday, both LaJoie and Blaney were very happy to be able to say they had recently shared lighthearted moments with their fellow NASCAR competitor.
Speaking on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, LaJoie said he had texted the night before with Newman. They reminisced about an earlier occasion in which their vehicles collided during a Ford-sponsored trip to an indoor Go-Kart track in Pennsylvania.
“We’re sliding around and smashing into each other, and his head is so big he had to hold the roof up because his head was smashing into it,” LaJoie told the hosts. “So we shared a laugh over [that]. I said, ‘Man, it was almost like we were back at that slick track in Pocono, but unfortunately, we were going 200 miles an hour instead of seven.’ And he thought that was funny."
“What a blessing to be able to share a laugh with Ryan,” LaJoie added, “not even almost 48 hours after everybody assumed the worst.”
"We don't change a thing, we just keep learning from these wild crashes"@CoreyLaJoie tells @DanielleTrotta & @LarryMac28 he's comfortable returning to superspeedways & talks about his conversation with @RyanJNewman Wednesday night @GoFasRacing32 | @FordPerformance | @NASCAR pic.twitter.com/w9ORbl2KmD— SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) (@SiriusXMNASCAR) February 20, 2020
Blaney posted a note to social media Thursday in which he said, “I don’t think you will ever see someone as tough as Ryan Newman, to see him walk out of that hospital with his girls brought a tear to my eye.
“I was lucky enough to speak with him last night briefly about what happened Monday, it was just good to hear his voice to be honest,” Blaney continued. “His Ryan Newman humor was at large and brought a smile to my face.
“The recovery he has made the past few days have been remarkable. I look forward to seeing him soon to talk about it more.”
Another NASCAR driver, Martin Truex Jr., also referred to Newman’s “sense of humor” while posting a photo Wednesday of the two of them at the hospital. Newman’s wife, Krissie, simply added the caption, “Busting out!!!” to black-and-white footage of him leaving the hospital Wednesday.
In his own Instagram post Wednesday, LaJoie shared a photo of himself kneeling near his car, which was aflame from the impact with Newman’s car, at the end of the Daytona 500. Noting that he had seen others taking the image to mean that LaJoie was praying for Newman, he clarified that while he did take a moment to thank Jesus for his “hand of protection,” he was mostly trying to catch his breath and recover from the jarring collision.
“I was confused as my brain tried to process what my body just went through and I was hurting from the sub straps containing the force of the frontal impact,” wrote LaJoie, who finished eighth in the race, while Newman was ninth and Blaney came in second to Denny Hamlin. He added, “At that moment I had no idea who I hit or the severity of it.”
“All I knew was I hit a light-colored car,” LaJoie said on a podcast Wednesday (via racer.com). “So, I’m literally sitting there going, ‘Oh, that hurt. Oh, that hurt. That hurt real bad.'”
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They say a picture is worth 1000 words. A lot of speculation as to what was going through my little noggin here. Here’s the facts. The wind was knocked out of me so I was catching my breath, I was wiggling my fingers and toes to make sure they were still connected, I was confused as my brain tried to process what my body just went through and I was hurting from the sub straps containing the force of the frontal impact. While I was down there I did send up a “thank you Jesus for your hand of protection” prayer and at that moment I had no idea who I hit or the severity of it. I’m hearing very optimistic things on Ryan’s condition so your prayers are working guys, keep it rolling.
LaJoie said on the podcast that his “heart sunk” once he was shown video of the crash. “Then I got sick to my stomach,” he added, “because that left-side roof bar is the most vulnerable part to get hit in the car.”
In his radio appearance Thursday, LaJoie claimed that as fate would have it, a safety measure NASCAR put in vehicles after a Newman crash in 2009 may have saved them both from severe injury Monday.
“I kind of thanked him for flipping at Talladega,” LaJoie said of his exchange with Newman (via nbcsports.com). “Because if it wasn’t for that visor bar, that second roof bar that they put in after that crash that Ryan had, I told him we would have been able to split the ambulance fare [at Daytona], because I would have been right there next to him. … There was no telling how bad it could have been.”
Now consider this angle of the crash and how the Newman Bar would've played a role in not only protecting Ryan Newman's head and upper body, but how Corey Lajoie was also likely saved by this bar given the front impact he had with Newman's vehicle.https://t.co/N1gjF5oD8d— Jesse Marshall (@jmarshfof) February 19, 2020
There is still no timetable for Newman, 42, to return to competition. In the meantime, Ross Chastain was chosen by Roush Fenway Racing to drive Newman’s No. 6 Ford, beginning this week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“I can’t wait to have Rocketman Ryan Newman back at the track racing as hard as ever,” Blaney said in his post Thursday.
“We are all competitors racing for wins every weekend but at the same time are one big family, and you never want to see family get hurt,” he wrote. “Have been replaying the events in my head over and over about what I could’ve done differently ever since. I’m very lucky to have a great family, friends, team and incredible fans that have helped me out this week. I can’t thank everyone enough for that.”
“It’s been a very emotional week for everybody,” LaJoie said Thursday. “I wanted to thank everybody for reaching out and supporting all three of us — Blaney, myself and [Newman].
“It seems like all three of us are doing well for the circumstances.”