Joe Gibbs issued an apology to all those who questioned his team celebrating their win at the Daytona 500 following Ryan Newman’s accident.
“When everything happened at the end of the race, I knew there was a race but I never even focused over there; I was focused on our car, and everybody started celebrating around us,” said Gibbs.
“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.
“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.”
Hamlin won the Daytona 500 for the second consecutive year, and the third of his career. After coming down pit road for the mandatory lug nut check, he spun his No. 11 FedEx Toyota into the grass and then climbed out at the start/finish line where some members of his team greeted him.
Hamlin said he didn’t find anything out until he was told there would be no winner’s interview at the start/finish line.
“I knew crossing the track there it was a bad scenario in the first place,” said Hamlin. “It’s a weird balance of excitement and happiness for yourself, but obviously, someone’s health and their family is bigger than any win in any sport. We’re just hoping for the best.”
Chris Lambert, Hamlin’s spotter, took the blame in two separate Twitter posts.
“I told him to slow down on backstretch and give the emergency staff (time) to roll, that we had a bad wreck,” read part of Lambert’s first post. “I saw (Denny Hamlin) get in line for lug nut check and assumed he was going straight to (victory lane).”
“I think made a beeline down to Jason Jarrett (Newman’s spotter) to check on the status of Ryan,” read the second. “I did not communicate any more info to (Denny Hamlin) after that, because I was only concerned with finding out info on Ryan.”
Newman was immediately transported to a local hospital after being removed from his car. There has been no official word on nature or extent any injuries.
“If you think about all the wrecks that we’ve had over the last how many number of years and some of them look real serious, we’ve been so fortunate,” continued Gibbs. “Now, it’s (this win) hard. We’re all waiting.”