Newman’s car crashed in front of LaJoie’s on the last lap of Monday’s Daytona 500. LaJoie had no chance to avoid hitting Newman’s upside down car on the driver side. The contact catapulted Newman’s car before it landed on its roof and slid down the frontstretch, coming to rest beyond the exit of pit road. Newman was extricated after the roof was cut off his No. 6 Ford. He was immediately taken to Halifax Health Medical Center and was in serious condition that evening with injuries that were not life threatening.
LaJoie spoke Thursday with Danielle Trotta and Larry McReynolds on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “On Track’ show.
“It truly is a miracle the condition that Ryan Newman is in today vs. what we all assumed on Monday night,” said LaJoie, who finished eighth in the Daytona 500 for his career-best result in that race. “It goes to show how nasty of a wreck and how good of a job that NASCAR has done to make these cars safer and just the power of prayer, really.
“It’s been a very emotional week for everybody. I wanted to thank everybody for reaching out and supporting all three of us (Ryan) Blaney, myself and (Newman). It seems like all three of us are doing well for the circumstances.”
Bubba Wallace stated on social media Wednesday that he had been supporting Blaney, who was “devastated” by Newman’s accident. The incident was triggered by a bump from Blaney’s car as he sought to push Newman to the victory.
LaJoie noted that two extra bars, referred to as a Newman bar, to reinforce the window could have been pivotal in this crash.
“I kind of thanked him for flipping at Talladega over (in 2009) 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, I said, we would have been able to split the ambulance fare because I would have been right there next to him … there was no telling how bad it could have been,” LaJoie said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio of what he told Newman.
“I think the previous crashes and the advancements that the R&D Center and the guys at NASCAR have made to make the car safer through that wreck is what really kept him and I both safe.”
LaJoie said the crash happened so fast, he had no chance to avoid Newman’s car.
“It was crazy how fast it happened,” LaJoie said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “People don’t realize how much it hurts when you hit something that hard that fast.”
LaJoie also said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that he doesn’t think changes need to be made to the type of racing seen at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.
“I’m comfortable,” he said. “It’s what you sign up for. There’s an element of danger. Like I was explaining to someone the other day, you’re trying to make a 3,600-pound piece of metal go 200 miles an hour, sometimes you’re going to have bad crashes.
“I think it’s a testament to what NASCAR is learning and trying to keep these cars safe because that was the worst, the worst, angle of a crash, the worst area of a car to get hit on Monday night the way Ryan was and for him to be literally to be walking out 36 hours later, why would we change what many would consider the best form of racing that we have in the superspeedways?
“My opinion, we don’t change a thing. We just keep learning from these wild crashes, especially with this new Next Gen car coming in, the cars are even 30-40% safer than this. I’m excited to get into that car and continue to put on a great show for the fans.”