The two men most closely involved in the terrible crash of the Daytona 500, which ended when Ryan Newman was taken to the hospital, explained how things were going to go after Monday's race.
After a few scary hours, NASCAR announced that Newman was in serious condition, but with "non-life threatening" injuries. The entire racing community exhaled, including Ryan Blaney and Corey LaJoie.
Blaney was behind Newman, pushing his Ford colleagues past Denny Hamlin and leading the final lap of the prestigious race. Then Blaney seemed to lose control after getting a push from Hamlin and knocking 42-year-old Newman out.
"We took Newman to the top there and then we got a push from (Hamlin). I kind of went down and he blocked that, so I was determined to push him to victory and let a Ford win, ”Blaney said afterwards to reporters.
"I don't know. We just mis-connected the bumpers and I twisted it. I hope he's fine. It looked pretty bad. I tried to push him to victory. I don't like to say that things just happen because I feel really bad about it. It was close. I just hope Ryan is fine. "
This was when things got scary. Newman's car was turned over and landed right in front of LaJoie's oncoming car with no time to react. LaJoie's car crushed Newman's vehicle, which caught fire and overturned several times before it stopped.
"This is obviously scary," said LaJoie after the race. "I got a big boost there that last came to the whites. I don't know who pushed me and I kind of got stuck and I don't know who made Newman addicted. I was hoping he would bounce off the fence to the left, but he didn't and I hit him. I don't know exactly where I hit him. I haven't seen a repeat. It was creepy stuff. Do not get me wrong. My car was on fire. My seat belts packed all sorts of areas, but it was a good day for us. I hope Ryan is fine. "
LaJoie added more details on Good Morning America on Tuesday morning.
"He's obviously in serious condition because this is probably the most vulnerable part of our race car that was a really scary wreck," said LaJoie.
"It was wild, I didn't even know who I met because you focus on getting a good finish, and nobody knows how fast 200 miles an hour or how light or out of control these cars are. I didn't know who I met or how big the crash was. [It was a] Very scary crash, but the fact that he is still with us and is trying to recover fully is just evidence of NASCAR and how safely they are trying to make these race cars. "
Hamlin's second consecutive Daytona 500 victory suddenly became an afterthought, and he apologized for the celebrations that took place while Newman's status was unknown. Newman was pulled out of the car by the emergency services and taken to the hospital. The AP took the photo of Newman removed from the car.
NASCAR officials tried to protect fans and cameras with black screens from the creepy scene.
"It's a strange balance between excitement and happiness for yourself, but a person's health and family are bigger than any win in a sport. We only hope for the best," said Hamlin.