Ryan Blaney spoke extensively with the media in Fontana on Friday afternoon about his emotions following the last-lap crash in the Daytona 500 with Ryan Newman.
Blaney was the driver who hit Newman from behind in the tri-oval and sent Newman into the outside wall. When Newman’s car got airborne it was hit by Corey LaJoie before landing on its side and skidding down the frontstretch. Newman spent two days in the hospital and has since returned home and revealed he’s being treated for a head injury.
It has been a tough time for Blaney, who said in the immediate aftermath he wanted to be alone. However, his parents met him at home in North Carolina, and Darrell Wallace Jr. visited him the next day.
“I stayed off social media and all that stuff,” said Blaney at Auto Club Speedway. “You have people that aren’t even involved and have never even watched the sport that have their own opinion on bad things. The outreach I got from the calls from former drivers and current drivers that week was pretty remarkable. Their support was good.
“Even though it was unintentional and it is racing, it still takes a toll on you when it’s off of your nose. You never wanna see anyone get hurt in this sport. We are all competitors but we are also a big family. Ryan [Newman] and I have gotten along really well, and that was just a bad circumstance, and it’s great that it worked out for the best. It was nice to have the friends and family and drivers and teams support. That really helped me out.”
Blaney spoke with Newman’s father, Greg, on the Tuesday following the Daytona 500. Expressing how he would love to talk to Newman when he was awake and feeling up to it, Blaney and Newman did have a conversation on Wednesday night, the day Newman was released from the hospital.
“That was really nice to talk to him,” said Blaney said. “We only talked for five or 10 minutes, but that did a lot for me talking to him. There were no hard feelings or anything like that. I look forward to seeing him soon. It’s amazing how fast he has recovered from that stuff. Like I said in my little post, I don’t think you will find anyone tougher than that guy. It’s remarkable. As he progressed and got better, it made me feel better as well.”
When it comes to the crash itself, Blaney saw the replay upon getting out of the car in Daytona but didn’t know how bad it was. As the NASCAR Cup Series prepares for its third race of the season and Blaney’s mindset continues to improve, he doesn’t have any interest in seeing any additional replays or angles.
“It was a big, big range of emotions within 10 minutes,” said Blaney. “It’s tough to watch it. I don’t want to watch it. I don’t want to see the in-car high-speed camera. I don’t want to see that. I did see the wreck, and it’s not comfortable to watch. I don’t think it’s comfortable for anybody to watch.
“It is literally the worst place you can get hit with these cars. It proves a lot about the safety of them for that to happen and Ryan to be OK, but there is still a lot we can do to keep these things on the ground and not get over and be in a position to get hit like that. It’s definitely not comfortable to watch. I don’t try to watch it.”