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