After facing backlash for heading to victory lane to celebrate his Daytona 500 win amid Ryan Newman's scary crash, Denny Hamlin is clearing the air, revealing that he did not initially know of the severity of Newman's crash. Hamlin, whose Monday win marked his third consecutive win, addressed the backlash he received in a tweet shared later that night.
First a foremost I want to give well wishes and prayers to @RyanJNewman. 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. 🙏Rocket— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) February 18, 2020
Hamlin's win was secured just moments after the terrifying crash, which saw Newman's car going airborne and flipping several times after being bumped from behind by Ryan Blaney before another driver collided with the driver's side of the vehicle. Newman's vehicle briefly caught fire before the flames were extinguished.
Although Hamlin was unaware of the severity of the crash, fans were stunned by the scene as Newman was removed from his vehicle and transported via a stretcher to an ambulance, his condition initially unknown.
After learning of the severity of the crash, Hamlin and his team had immediately stopped their celebrations, with the winner later sharing his reaction to the crash.
"Obviously I saw him cross the race track," he said. "I didn't see the contact that the other car had when he was in the air. That's kind of a worse case scenario you can possibly have."
"We're praying for the best," he added.
Team owner Joe Gibbs also later issued an apology for the celebration, reiterating Hamlin's words when stating that they were not initially aware of the severity of the crash.
"I knew that there was a (wreck), but I never even focused over there (by Newman's car)," Gibbs said, according to USA Today. "I was focused on our car, and everybody started celebrating it around us. So I said to everybody out there, some people may have saw us and said, 'Well, these guys are celebrating when there's this serious issue going on.'"0comments
"So, I say to everybody out there, some people may have saw us and said, 'Those guys are celebrating when there's a serious issue going on.' So I apologize to everybody, but we really didn't know," he added. "We got in the winner's circle, and then that's when people told us. I wanted to explain that to everyone. It makes it so hard. Such a close-knit community, you know everybody."
In a statement released to Newman's Twitter account late Monday night, fans were informed that the racer is currently being treated at Halifax Medical Center. He is listed in serious condition, with doctors saying that he has non-life threatening injuries.