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Corey LaJoie: Denny Hamlin feud ‘escalated to a point it shouldn’t have’

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Corey LaJoie issued an apology to Denny Hamlin regarding recent statements made during their Twitter feud and said “what started as a me standing up for myself escalated to a point it shouldn’t have reached.”

LaJoie’s statement was posted on social media and came the day after the driver said on his podcast that Hamlin texted him and Go Fas Racing officials last week threatening to wreck LaJoie’s No. 32 Ford. Hamlin denied LaJoie’s claim.

LaJoie said while “there have been no lies spoken … some things are better left unsaid.”

He said “I apologize for some of the things I’ve said towards Denny that were fueled by emotion and continue to recognize his exceptional ability to wheel a race car.”

 

In the newest episode of his Motor Racing Network podcast, “Sunday Money,” LaJoie detailed the timeline of his feud with Hamlin, which largely played out on social media before it escalated last week.

LaJoie’s recounting began during NASCAR’s shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic when Cup drivers competed in the Pro Invitational iRacing Series.

“(Hamlin) subtweets on my stuff, ‘We’ve been hearing about how much your cars suck, now’s your time to prove it on iRacing.’ I finished second at Talladega. I don’t like iRacing, but I jump on and do it just strictly because he called me out. Finished second. I respond to that tweet, pull it back up with the eyes little emoji. He says, ‘Well, Talladega is not really the real thing. Do a race where it really matters.’ Go to Dover, qualify fifth, messed up everybody’s Draft Kings lineup because I wanted to show him I’m capable of qualifying good. Started in the back because of the invert, wrecked.

“Go to North Wilkesboro. … Was going to finish in the top three there, my brake pedal broke. So that’s the end of the iRacing saga. No more Dennis Hamlin (LaJoie’s nickname for Hamlin) anywhere to be found. Race at Atlanta (on June 7). Drive around, finish 27th all day. I post my loop heart rate data and it’s fairly high … He subtweets on it, ‘this is why we couldn’t count on you in the fourth quarter,’ talking about his basketball league, with his heart rate, which was super not consistent … but it was lower than mine. So he’s making a joke about my competitive nature as well as my fitness level.”

“So then I say, ‘Hey, can we trade cars?'” LaJoie continued. “He assumed I’m just (expletive) on his driving abilities every time I respond to him. Goes back and forth and says I’m a (expletive) driver more or less and it dies. We go to Martinsville, which is a driver’s race track. The 32 car finishes (18th) six positions in front of (Hamlin). Now the floodgates open, right? Because all of a sudden three days ago Denny was talking about how the driver makes the difference, it’s not the car. We go to a track where the drivers make a difference and I finish in front of him, when his teammate (Martin Truex Jr.) wins the race. …

“We don’t even go back and forth (on Twitter). I did some passive aggressive stuff, right? Kermit the Frog drinking the tea and the fans are just piling it on, ‘Denny, you suck,’ this, that and the other, which I never said any of this. Not once. Turned around and I acknowledged, I only had three days left to live this up. We’re going to go to Homestead and I’m going to get my (expletive) kicked in. I already knew it, called it Wednesday night. …

“The only personal thing I’ve said to him in this whole ordeal was the one thing about ‘Yeah, he’s probably going to win at Homestead because there’s no pressure on the line.’ Probably a (expletive) thing to say, but look what happened, he ended up winning. … He texts me on Friday night, ‘Congrats on getting your car crashed.’ Talking about how he’s going to wreck me on Sunday. … It’s premeditated threat, right? … He proceeded, this is at like 11:30 at night, proceeded to text my car owner (Archie St. Hilaire), Mason (St. Hilaire), the general manager, as well as my crew chief (Ryan Sparks), and says ‘Congrats on getting your stuff crashed, your driver’s going to learn a hard lesson.’

“So my owner is like, ‘Hey, this is not how this is going to work, because this is a $300,000 race car, for something that was just a Twitter beef that he started.’ Sends the stuff to (NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve) O’Donnell. O’Donnell is like, ‘Ok, if you’re going to wreck a guy don’t just pre-meditate it because we already suspended Matt Kenseth for two races (in 2015) for wrecking Joey Logano on purpose. Now something’s actually premeditated, so we’re going to have to hit it even harder, right? So do what you got to do.’

“So this thing’s gone from just a little Twitter beef to an actual, he’s like threatening me. Now my owner will be mad at me if (Hamlin) wrecks me, because at the end of the day I’m the one driving it. It’s his money getting burned up. … Jay Fabian, series director, texts us a pit location (to meet him at on Sunday). … It’s 2 o’clock. I’m there, it’s 10 minutes early. He gets there about 2:08, a little late. We go over to a motorhome and we sit down. There was some ‘F you’s’ back and forth, pretty tense at the beginning. … He just felt I was attacking his driving ability the whole time. … If I didn’t remind him seven times that he started this and kept subtweeting on my stuff, I didn’t do it once. He went from, ‘It wasn’t about you, you keep making it about your equipment.’ I said, ‘Dennis, you literally said you, the word y-o-u, nine times in the first six tweets to me, so of course it’s about me.’

“‘Don’t say it’s not about me. Don’t say that it’s about you having established the difference between an elite driver and another driver. That’s never what it was about. Then he wanted to kind of backtrack and say ‘It was only because I liked you was why I was messing with you, I don’t mess with guys I don’t like.’

“I was like, ‘You don’t say the (expletive) that you did, nor text everybody in my team that you were going to crash me if you like me.’ At the end of the day, they told him if you’re going to premeditate your decision on crashing this guy, we don’t have any choice, because we already have the evidence that you’re going to do it.’ He kind of softened his stance on that. We spoke through it like men, I told him what I was taking offense to and there was some things he took offense to, that weren’t even contextually accurate because if he goes back and reads what I said, I never made any sort of jabs at his ability, nor his character. He just assumed that I did. He thinks everything’s about him. I defused it enough to where he didn’t just completely trash my (expletive) on Sunday afternoon and he ended up winning the race.”

Hamlin refuted LaJoie’s story on Twitter Wednesday evening.

Hamlin was asked about his feud with LaJoie during his press conference on Sunday.

“I understand his stance and he understands mine,” Hamlin said. “Mine was to win the races I’ve won, I didn’t have the best car every time. I still have to go out and beat probably some of the best drivers in history that drive for Joe Gibbs Racing and Stewart‑Haas and Penske.

“No one gave me anything. My parents had nothing, like nothing nothing. I got here the old‑fashioned way. Any time you feel like anyone says, ‘Hey, if I had what you had, I could do that,’ it’s offensive. It’s a little offensive because you know personally how hard you worked to get there.

“I took offense to it. He took offense to the things that I said. I understand it was a miss ‑‑ just kind of two guys that were talking about some sensitive subjects. I think we’re okay now.”

Corey LaJoie to drive Dale Jarrett Xfinity throwback in Southern 500

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Corey LaJoie and GoFas Racing will pay tribute to Dale Jarrett’s Xfinity Series career with their throwback paint scheme for this year’s Southern 500 (Sept. 1 on NBCSN).

LaJoie’s No. 32 Ford will be made to look like the No. 32 Nestle Crunch car Jarrett drove from 1990-91 in the Xfinity Series (then the Busch Series).

Jarrett won five times in that time, including twice at Darlington Raceway.

The Crunch-inspired scheme will have sponsorship from Keen Parts/CorvetteParts.net.

“The car looks great and I’ve always been a fan of Dale, so to carry this scheme around Darlington is awesome,” LaJoie said in a press release. “I think we did a great job keeping the scheme as close to the original as possible while incorporating the CorvetteParts.net logos into it. I can’t thank Tom and TJ Keen enough for allowing us to run this design – it’s one of my favorite schemes. I might even have to shave myself a mustache so I don’t do the car a disservice.”

GoFas Racing, Roush Fenway win fourth round of eNASCAR Heat Pro League

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The eNASCAR Heat Pro League saw its first repeat winners Wednesday night for its event held on the digital Watkins Glen International road course.

The PlayStation 4 race was won by Hunter Mullins (@Fedex_rcn_11_) for GoFas Racing.

Nicholas Walker (@wowTHATSgarbage) won the XBox One race for Roush Fenway Racing.

Both Mullins and Walker were the victors in the Round 2 races on the digital Auto Club Speedway.

The fifth round of the Pro League will be held July 10th on the digital Chicagoland Speedway. There are four rounds left in the regular season.

Here are the points standings through four rounds.

You can watch both races in the video below.

 

Matt DiBenedetto: No ‘ill will’ toward Aric Almirola after ‘overreaction’ at Pocono

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Matt DiBenedetto said he and Aric Almirola have talked via text messages and are “fine” with each other in the days following their run-in after the checkered flag at Pocono and DiBenedetto’s heated confrontation with Almirola on pit road.

In an interview Wednesday night on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Dialed In,” DiBenedetto said he has “no ill will toward Aric” and that his intentional spin of Almirola after the checkered flag was an “overreaction” fueled by a disappointing finish.

“The only bad news that I have for everybody is that Aric and I have talked,” DiBenedetto said. “We texted back and forth after he did that interview (Tuesday on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). … We talked and we’re fine. No problem with Aric. Honestly a week or two before, he was racing for the lead and I was actually pulling for him to win. So I have no ill will toward Aric.”

Almirola had said he was “baffled” by DiBenedetto’s actions.

“I was blown away after the race when he come and run into the side of me and spun me out,” Almirola said. “I couldn’t wrap my head around what he was so upset about.

“I understand. I guess when you’re running back there and you’re fighting to stay on the lead lap week in and week out, racing like that, 25th is a big deal. But I was racing. I caught him off Turn 1 and drove underneath of him and passed him in the Tunnel Turn and we came back to the checkered. I finished 25th and he finished behind me (in 27th) and apparently was pretty upset about it.”

The driver of GoFas Racing’s No. 32 Ford blamed “testosterone and adrenaline all mixed together” and “a bad sequence of events” for both him and Almirola for what happened.

DiBenedetto shared his side of the story.

“We were both frustrated, because obviously (Almirola) had a strong car and he ended up with some damage, had to go to the back,” DiBenedetto said. “And our team, we’re a small team … we were probably going to finish 16th, 18th, at least top 20 at worst. The last two restarts for me worked out very, very poorly. The second to last restart the line that I was in, turned out really bad. So we stacked up and I lost a couple of spots. But on the green-white-checkered, I was going into Turn 3 and (the field) stacked up really bad. I ran into the back of (Paul Menard), we all checked up and I lost like five more spots, four or five more spots and I was absolutely furious. Just out of being passionate, because that would have been a really good run for us if we finished where I thought we deserved to run.

“So I’m all ready, really mad. On the white flag Aric and I were side-by-side and as he said, 25th, and every spot matters. … So we went into Turn 2 and he went up the race track and we were side-by-side and he kind of cleared himself, he thought he was clear, whatever happened. If I wouldn’t have checked up, I was going to hit the wall.”

After the checkered flag, DiBenedetto said he gave Almirola “a little bump” on the backstretch and then Almirola “tried to brake check me.”

“I started it,” DiBenedetto said. “Whatever, I’m not mad about that. That sparked me again and then he came back up beside me and slammed into my right-side door and then I reacted by crashing him on the back straightaway, or spinning him out. It was just an overreaction and way too much adrenaline and testosterone mixed together and … in hindsight I would never race him like that nor would he and it was a crazy situation.”

The 27-year-old driver said the incident “was more of a thing that’s conversational for after the race” and “That’s how it should have been handled after the race by me. But when all that happened, he’s frustrated, I’m frustrated. I was too angry and after the race I went up beside him and expressed my displeasure.”

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NASCAR America: Chris Buescher, Matt DiBenedetto run well in the pack

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While most eyes are focused at the front of the pack, some incredible performances often go unnoticed outside of the top 10. On Tuesday, NASCAR America showcased three drivers who had outstanding runs in the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Sonoma Raceway that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.

“I’m going to go with Chris Buescher and his 12th-place finish,” Landon Cassill said. “I thought he had a solid day. You know, his teammate is AJ Allmendinger … is an animal at these road courses, but Chris just put together a solid day and he’s a good driver at Sonoma. I worked with Chris when we both drove for Front Row Motorsports and I can tell you that I’m pretty sure he still holds the record in the Ford simulator for the fastest lap at Sonoma. … I used to use his car as a Chase car in the sim to help my laps at Sonoma.”

That was Buescher’s third consecutive top 20 on a road course and it comes on the heels of an 11th last August at Watkins Glen International.

Matt DiBenedetto has never been known as a road racer. In six previous starts on this type of track, he had never cracked the top 20 – until Sunday’s race at Sonoma when he scored a career-best 17th.

“My ‘Running with the Pack’ guy’s also not a road course guy: Matt DiBenedetto finished 17th at Sonoma after starting 30th and that is the ninth time in 16 races that he’s outperformed where he qualified,” Nate Ryan said. “I think that’s significant, I think that tells you how good GoFas Racing is, making the most of what they have.”

Dale Jarrett went a little deeper in the field.

“I’m going with somebody, who his team has only ran their seventh race at Sonoma and that’s our colleague Parker Kligerman. … He’s an outstanding road racer. He has that background, but he’s a good racer everywhere he goes. He ran inside the top 20 most of the day.”

For more, watch the video above.