Denny Hamlin is opening up about the "unusual set of circumstances" that led to his untimely victory celebration at the end of the Daytona 500 after fellow driver Ryan Newman was involved in a crash that ultimately led to his hospitalization. While Hamlin immediately apologized for his celebration, revealing he hadn't been told that Newman's crash was serious, the NASCAR driver was sure to thank Dale Earnhardt Jr. for defending him on NBC.
"I think (fans) are being overly critical of Denny."@DaleJr defended @DennyHamlin after celebrating his Daytona 500 win, comparing it to the celebration after @MW55 won the 2001 race -- not knowing what was going on. pic.twitter.com/imaTIZRkA2— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) February 19, 2020
"I didn't feel like that was deserving," Earnhardt Jr. said of the criticism Hamlin received. "I appreciate Joe Gibbs issuing an apology but I didn't think it was necessary. In this day and time, it certainly is, for people get triggered so easily."
"It's a different time, and people react differently to those type of situations," he continued. I think they're being overly critical of Denny and his team. It's unfortunate that someone in that camp didn't get to Denny quicker and tell him to pause and hold on his celebration -- it didn't happen. And it's unfortunate, but it's not that anyone was right or wrong, it's just how it played out."
Hamlin was quick to respond, saying he wished he got to do it "all over again."
Thank you @DaleJr . It was a unusual set of circumstances and wish we had it to do all over again. I was sitting in my car waiting on TV and when they didn’t show up and team guys came over I got out. Couple min later I learned that it was serious.— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) February 20, 2020
Hamlin has previously explained what was going through his mind after Monday's crash, writing on Twitter Monday, "First [and] foremost I want to give well wishes and prayers to [Ryan Newman]. I had absolutely NO IDEA of the severity of the crash until I got to victory lane. There’s very little communication after the finish and i had already unhooked my radio. It’s not anyone’s fault. [Prayer hands] Rocket"
He also relived the end of the race the following day on Live With Kelly and Ryan, saying as they watched the moment back, "I didn't know really anything until we got to victory lane. I'm third right here, so I'm pushing the yellow car, I see them starting to get together and I get the last lunge at the start/finish line."
"I saw him come across me obviously but wrecks are so common at the end of these races anyway that you don't think anything about it," he said. "It's been so long since any serious injury. We just went about our business and then got informed at victory lane that it was something serious."0comments
Newman has since been released from the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.
Photo credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images, Getty