Corey LaJoie hopes feud with Denny Hamlin is over — but is it?

Leave a comment

Late Baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra used to say, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

So, is the feud between Corey LaJoie and Denny Hamlin truly over?

LaJoie would like to think so – he’s already apologized twice and Hamlin has already said “I think we’re okay now.

But whether they truly are okay will likely be seen this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. When asked during a Zoom press conference Friday whether he’ll reach out to Hamlin in-person when they get to Alabama, LaJoie responded:

“I don’t know. Did I run my mouth a little bit more than what I probably should have? Yes. Did he do things that he probably regretted. Yes. That’s how we got into this situation. We are both grown-ups. We both have kids. We both have jobs and livelihoods that are bigger than this little tiff we have going on.

“We might think it’s bigger because there’s pride and ego involved, but at the end of the day he’s got his people he’s got to answer to and he’s got his mission of trying to win races and championships and I’ve got my mission of trying to do a good job for my team and eventually hopefully get a more competitive car and keep working my way up the ladder and everybody is on that same page.

“I personally learned a lot through what I went through. I learned a lot about myself. I’ve never been in this situation. I’ve never really had to stick up for myself at a level like this. When I realized I was using the platforms that (the Motor Racing Network) and NASCAR in a sense, since they own MRN, they afford me the opportunity to have a podcast, which I love and I love to talk about this sport. I love talking about the ins-and-outs of it, the business of it, because I’ve grown up in it and I love it.

“But when I realized, and whether or not some people on my side can say I still have the right to say my side, but it turned into something where I didn’t feel like I was using my platform for positivity. There’s enough negativity in the world going on as we all can agree on, I certainly don’t want to aid any negativity, especially on my platforms, whether it be social media or SiriusXM radio or my podcast because that’s not who I am. I’m a fierce competitor. I stick up for what I believe in. I’m a friend to people who want to be friends with me and I’m trying to be a good dad and a good husband. That’s just what it is.”

NASCAR has spoken with both drivers and will likely be keeping tabs on them before, during and after Sunday’s race.

Last week we had a meeting when there was some things that came to a head that they had to address,” LaJoie, driver of the No. 32 Go Fas Racing Ford Mustang said. “Should I have let it die after that meeting? Probably so, but I didn’t. I felt like I was trying to breeze over it, trying to say there were some private messages exchanged, NASCAR had to get in the middle of it, we talked about it and moved on, and that’s kind of how I was trying to frame it up in my podcast.

“But then I, for whatever reason, I elaborated more on it than I should have and it ended up making a story. I think Denny and I can both agree that we were both in the wrong and I finally just had to eat it, whether or not I still had a leg to stand on in the argument. We moved on from what the original points of the argument was and that’s when I was like, ‘What in the hell are we doing here?’

“But it’s easy to get caught up in it. It’s easy to get caught up in the emotion. It’s easy to get from one point to the next point and not know how you got there in-between and be like, ‘Oh, shoot. Now I’m in a hole I can’t really get out of.’ NASCAR doesn’t patrol Twitter and they don’t call meetings because two people are beefing in their sub-tweets section. Stuff has to escalate to a point where if they were worried about it bleeding over onto the racetrack, and let’s hope it doesn’t.

“I’m probably talking about it more than I would be recommended to, but I just wanted to say my peace with it because as far as I’m concerned I said what I’ve said. I’ve apologized for what I feel bad for and now I just want to go to the racetrack and go racing.”

LaJoie said he is ready to put the whole incident behind him.

“I can sleep at night,” he said. “I think that it didn’t even get to a point where I still felt like I was in the wrong, per se, but it got to a point where I would listen to it back and I felt convicted about how I was handling it, whether or not it was tit-for-tat or whatever, and it just got to a point where I listened to myself back on what I was saying and how I was saying things that I was questioning who that guy was because that person that has been on the podcast the last week wasn’t who I was. That wasn’t how I treat people. That wasn’t what I call people.

“That wasn’t how I deal with issues, and I guess because I felt threatened or offended in a certain way, I felt like I had to act a certain way. Regardless of what was said by both sides, I finally got to a point where I was convicted to just stop it on my end. We didn’t come to a mutual agreement by any means. It was just a point where me personally I was over it. I was over carrying that burden of wanting to stick up for myself because I just want to drive a race car at the end of the day. When it changed from me sticking up for myself, when somebody else sub-tweeted all my stuff, when it morphed into me picking up stones and throwing them back, that’s when I had to listen to it back and I had to stop it.

“The thing that I really wanted to apologize for was calling the guy names. I don’t want anybody calling me names and I think that was childish, whether people can listen to the podcast and hear what I said, whether it be I called him two different things that I was disappointed in myself. I wasn’t apologizing for anything else.

“Sometimes I’m honest to a fault and sometimes I should leave things unsaid.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

William Byron’s title hopes end in Bristol incident

Leave a comment

William Byron‘s playoffs ended when he ran into the back of a car shortly before halfway in Saturday night’s Cup playoff race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Byron was running 10th and in position to advance to the second round after Saturday’s elimination race before the incident.

Byron told NBCSN’s Marty Snider that Joey Gase‘s car slowed on a straightaway and Byron ran into the back of Christopher Bell‘s car.

“I literally had nowhere to go,” Byron said. “Just ridiculous that’s what takes us out.”

Byron said he was running behind Bell, who was behind Gase, on the high side. Byron said he had Aric Almirola on his inside and could not move down there.

Byron entered the race the first driver outside the final transfer spot to the second round. He entered the race trailing Clint Bowyer by three points.




Three Joe Gibbs Racing cars going to rear for inspection violations

inspection violations
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The cars of Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Erik Jones will start at the rear after each car failed inspection twice before Saturday’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Busch enters the race 18 points above the cutline to transfer to the second round of the Cup playoffs. Saturday’s race (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). Busch was to have started ninth.

This is the second playoff race in a row that Busch’s team has failed inspection twice before the race and had to start at the rear. Busch started at the rear last weekend at Richmond. He finished sixth.

Hamlin has already advanced to the second round via points. He was to have started seventh.

“We’ve got 500 laps,” he said. “If we’re good enough, we’ll get to the front. Not really too worried about it in that sense.”

Jones is not in the playoffs. He would have started 20th.

NASCAR also announced that the cars of Corey LaJoie and Bubba Wallace will start at the rear for unapproved adjustments. JJ Yeley will go to the rear for a driver change since he was not listed on the preliminary entry list for the No. 15 car.

Wallace was to have started 27th. LaJoie was to have started 30th. The No. 15 was to have started 32nd with Brennan Poole as the driver.


Saturday Cup race at Bristol: Start time, TV channel

Leave a comment

Four drivers will be eliminated from the Cup playoffs after Saturday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

This marks the first time the track has been in the playoffs. The Saturday Cup race at Bristol will end the first round. The 16-driver field will be cut to 12.

William Byron (3 points behind the cutline), Cole Custer (-8), Matt DiBenedetto (-25) and Ryan Blaney (-27) are the four drivers out of a playoff spot. Clint Bowyer holds the final transfer spot.

Here is all the info for the Saturday Cup race at Bristol:

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines is at 7:38 p.m. The green flag waves at 7:45 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup haulers enter the garage (screening and equipment unload) at 10:30 a.m. Garage access health screening begins at 12:30 p.m. Garage opens at 12:30 p.m. Drivers report to their cars at 7:10 p.m. Driver introductions will be at 7:15 p.m. The invocation is at 7:30 p.m. The national anthem will be performed by Joe Nichols, three-time Grammy nominee, at 7:31 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 500 laps (266.5 miles) around the .533-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 125. Stage 2 ends on Lap 250

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will televise the race. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m with NASCAR America, followed by Countdown to Green at 7 p.m. Race coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s radio coverage will begin at 6:30 p.m. and also can be heard at SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the broadcast.

STREAMING: Watch the race on the NBC Sports App

FORECAST: The forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with a high of 62 degrees and a 3% chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST RACE: Brad Keselowski won at Richmond. Martin Truex Jr. finished second. Joey Logano placed third for the second race in a row.

LAST POINTS RACE AT BRISTOL: Brad Keselowski won in May after Denny Hamlin lost the lead when he hit the wall. Chase Elliott ran into Joey Logano as they battled for the lead late in the event.

TO THE REAR: Denny Hamlin (two inspection failures), Kyle Busch (two inspection failures), Erik Jones (two inspection failures), Corey LaJoie (unapproved adjustments), Bubba Wallace (unapproved adjustments), JJ Yeley (driver change).

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for Cup starting lineup


Three Joe Gibbs Racing cars going to the rear for inspection violations

Bubble drivers brace for Bristol battle

Pit crew change for teams of Alex Bowman and Jimmie Johnson

Friday 5: The thin line between aggressive and dirty driving

Matt DiBenedetto, Ryan Blaney seek NASCAR history to advance

What upcoming Cup playoff races NASCAR fans can attend

Trevor Bayne says the fire remains to run more races

Cup playoff clinching scenarios to make Round of 12

Leave a comment

The first elimination race of the Cup playoffs has arrived in the form of Bristol Motor Speedway.

Tonight’s 500-lap race on the short track will determine which drivers make up the Round of 12.

Three drivers have locked themselves into the second round. Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski earned their spots via race wins at Darlington and Richmond. Denny Hamlin clinched a spot via points.

More: Brad Keselowski on pole for Bristol

That leaves nine spots for 13 drivers to compete for.

If there is a new winner, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the 10th winless driver in the standings.

Joey Logano – would clinch with 7 points: 51 points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Logano has finished third in the last two playoff races (at Darlington and Richmond). Has made 23 starts at Bristol posting one pole, two wins, six top fives and 10 top 10s. Logano’s average finish is 15.3.

Martin Truex Jr. – would clinch with 20 points: 38 points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Earned 22nd-place finish at Darlington and second-place finish at Richmond. Has made 29 series starts at Bristol posting two top fives and three top 10s. His average finish is 20.6.

Austin Dillon – would clinch with 21 points: 36 points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Dillion has a runner-up finish at Darlington and a fourth-place result last weekend at Richmond. Has 13 starts at Bristol posting one top five and three top 10s. His average finish is 17.3.

Chase Elliott – Would clinch with 30 points: 28 points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Elliott finished 20th at Darlington and fifth at Richmond. Has made nine starts at Bristol and has one pole, three top fives and four top 10s. Average finish is 12.6.

Alex Bowman – would clinch with 31 points: 27 points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Bowman placed sixth at Darlington and ninth at Richmond. Has made nine series starts at Bristol with one top five and two top 10s. His average finish is 22.6.

Kyle Busch – would clinch with 40 points: Just 18 points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Has seventh-place finish at Darlington and a sixth-place finish at Richmond. Has made 30 Cup starts at Bristol posting two poles and a series-leading eight wins among active drivers.

Aric Almirola – would clinch with 51 points: Seven points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Finished ninth at Darlington and eighth at Richmond. Has made 22 starts at Bristol with one top five and two top 10s. His average finish is 25.0.

Kurt Busch – would clinch with 51 points: Seven points ahead of the cutoff sport. Almirola holds the tiebreaker of best finish in the current playoff round. Busch has finished eighth at Darlington and 13th at Richmond. Has 39 Cup starts at Bristol with one pole, six wins, 12 top fives and 21 top 10s. Average finish is 14th.

Clint Bowyer – would clinch with 55 points: Three points over cutoff. Finished 10th at Darlington and Richmond. Bowyer has made 29 Cup starts at Bristol with eight top fives and 16 top 10s. Average finish is 13.6.

William Byron (-3 points from cutoff; would need help to clinch): Finished fifth at Darlington and 21st at Richmond. Five Cup starts at Bristol with one top 10. Average finish of 17.2.

Cole Custer (-8 points; would need help to clinch): Finished 12th at Darlington and 14th at Richmond. Finished 25th in lone Bristol Cup start.

Matt DiBenedetto (-25 points; would need help to clinch): Finished 21st at Darlington and 17th at Richmond. Eleven Cup starts at Bristol with one top five and one top 10. Average finish of 19.1.

Ryan Blaney
Ryan Blaney is last on the 16 driver playoff grid heading into Bristol. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Ryan Blaney (-27 points; would need help to clinch): Finished 24th at Darlington and 19th at Richmond. Ten Cup starts at Bristol with one top five and three other top 10s. Average finish of 20.7.

More: Blaney and DiBenedetto seek history to advance to second round

Should there be a repeat winner Saturday – Harvick or Keselowski – the following drivers would advance to the next round by being ahead of the 11th winless driver in the standings.

Joey Logano: Would clinch with 4 points

Martin Truex Jr.: Would clinch with 17 points

Austin Dillon: Would clinch with 18 points

Chase Elliott: Would clinch with 27 points

Alex Bowman: Would clinch with 28 points

Kyle Busch: Would clinch with 37 points

Aric Almirola: Would clinch with 48 points

Kurt Busch: Would clinch with 48 points

Clint Bowyer: Would clinch with 52 points

William Byron: Would clinch with 55 points

Cole Custer, Matt DiBenedetto and Ryan Blaney: Could only clinch with help