Yesterday, NASCAR fans were left scratching their heads when NASCAR officials missed a pretty cheap move by William Byron.
On turn three on Lap 269 of the 334-lap race at Texas Motor Speedway yesterday, race leader Martin Truex Jr. blew a tire and crashed, causing the caution flag to come out.
Once the caution was out, Hamlin slowed down, but Byron hit him in retaliation for forcing him into the wall earlier in the race.
However, according to NBC Sports, NASCAR did not catch the move, and Hamlin was not put back in his original spot before Byron made contact, and Byron was never penalized.
Hamlin was forced to move back on the restart, essentially ruining an chance of him winning the race.
With that being said, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, Scott Miller, admitted that they missed the move, and hinted that repercussions will be addressed at some point this week.
“When we were in the tower, we were paying more attention to the actual cause of the caution up there and dispatching our equipment. The William Byron-Denny Hamlin thing, we had no eyes on. We saw Denny go through the grass.
By the time we got a replay that showed the incident well enough to do anything to it, we had gone back to green. I’m not sure that that issue is completely resolved as of yet. We’ll be looking at that when we get back to work.”
Miller did not address on what possible repercussions may stem from this, but if Byron is penalized, it could cause major playoff implications.
Hamlin also expressed concerns of his own on Twitter to NASCAR writer Jeff Gluck for The Athletic, who was one of the first to say that NASCAR missed the call.
Hamlin wasn’t having it though, saying:
“We were on the radio yelling at them what happened. I challenged my spot. What are they doing up there then?”
Byron himself admitted why he hit Hamlin, explaining the incident where Hamlin ran him into the wall:
“I felt like he ran me out of race track off of (Turn) 2 and had really hard contact with the wall. Felt like the toe link was definitely bent, luckily not fully broken. We were able to continue.
A lot of times that kind of damage is going to ruin your race, especially that hard. I totally understand running somebody close and making a little bit of contact, but that was pretty massive.
I didn’t mean to spin him out. That definitely wasn’t what I intended to do. I meant to bump him a little bit and show my displeasure and unfortunately, it happened the way it did. Obviously, when he was spinning out, I was like ‘I didn’t mean to do this,’ but I was definitely frustrated.”
And Hamlin, well… let’s just say that William Byron is now on the Denny Hamlin hit list, and that thing is getting long:
“I guess we can just wreck each other under caution. I tried to wreck him back. I don’t think we touched. I’ve got to look. I don’t think we touched. Obviously he sent us through the infield under caution.
I keep hearing these guys, but I’ll just add it to the list of guys when I get a chance they’re going to get it.”
Of course, it was incredibly frustrating for Hamlin, considering Byron’s actions put him from second to 19th, with Byron getting to restart at 10th after he pitted.
His crew chief, Chris Gabehart, also expressed his frustration after the incident on the team radio:
“The man wrecks you under caution and he gets no penalty? What are they doing?”
Byron ultimately finished seventh in the race, putting him 17 points above the playoff cutline going into Talladega next weekend.
Hamlin finished 10th, and is in sixth in the playoff standings, making him eight points above the cutline.
Needless to say, if NASCAR penalizes Byron, things could get really interesting at Talladega.