During Sunday’s NASCAR race at Phoenix Raceway, Denny Hamlin forced fellow driver Ross Chastain into the wall while racing for position coming to the checkered flag.
It appeared to be a Busch League move by Hamlin, and he even admitted himself on his podcast Actions Detrimental that he intended to do so.
And now, NASCAR is investigating the comments, as NASCAR senior vice president of competition Elton Sawyer said on The Morning Drive on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that the comments are “without a doubt it’s on our radar.”
Here’s a look at the crash:
According to NBC Sports, section 4.4.B of the Cup Rule Book says that a driver can be fined 25-50 points along with a fine between $50,000-$100,000 for a series of violations like “Wrecking or spinning another vehicle, whether or not that vehicle is removed from Competition as a result.”
Hamlin went on a long and candid conversation about his actions, saying:
“My crew chief told me there were 18 cars on the lead lap. At that point, I said, ‘Alright, I’m probably running sixth or seventh, I’m about to get passed by everyone behind me who’s on fresh tires. I’m about to finish in the mid-teens. I said, ‘You’re coming with me buddy.’
It wasn’t a mistake. No, it wasn’t a mistake. I let the wheel go, and I said he’s coming with me. It’s been interesting because I hear people say this is for last year or this year. I got wrecked at the Clash. I don’t know that Ross sees it that way. I think he’s still curious about what I thought about the Clash. I don’t know why he wonders what I thought about the Clash.
I’ve said for a while you’ve got to do something to get these guys’ attention, whatever. I’ve said it. I think that Ross doesn’t like it when I speak his name in the media and when I have this microphone. I told him I have a microphone and I’m going to call it like I see it.
Until you get a microphone, you can then say whatever you want about me. But the fact is while I’m sitting here talking, I’m going to call things the way I see it, and sometimes I’m going to have to call myself out. I’m the dumbass that lost as many spots as he did. At the time I said I’m going to finish shit anyway, I’m just going to make sure he finishes like shit right with me.”
He went on to say that it’s really hard to retaliate in NASCAR without involving another driver. If you wreck someone intentionally, there’s a good chance you’re gonna take out some other cars as well.
“It’s difficult because at times people want me to react right away. I don’t want to involve any more cars. I told you guys privately, my friends, it’s difficult to be in a position where you get back at a person and not involve an innocent bystander. It’s really hard to do.
Then you’ve got other people pissed at you because you’re doing something that affected their race when they had nothing to do with it. I never wanted to do that. Pocono, unfortunately, someone got caught up in that when Ross bounced back off the wall.
Here, I saw that we were the only people up top, so I said I’m going to send him into the fence and door him. My dumbass got caught up in it because when I got pinned, he was between me and the wall, so I got all screwed up and I lost a bunch of positions for my team, which was stupid.”
But for Denny, who didn’t have fresh tires, he made the call to get his revenge on Ross Chastain:
“At the time, I’m like I’m going to finish in the mid-teens anyway because my car is just plowing here, I’m about to get ate up by all these new tires. I just was like if I’m going to give this guy a hard time, it’s just going to be then.
So he bounced off the wall. My ideal situation was I was just going to knock him in the fence a little bit and keep going.
“He actually got the jump, he downshifted quicker. He brake-checked me a few times. You saw that from the onboard down the backstretch he hit the brakes a couple of times. After the brake-checks, I went into the next corner and tried. I’ll be honest with you, the motherf*cker is hard to spin. When he knows it’s coming, he’s the hardest guy to wreck on the planet.”
But after the race they seemed to hash it out in a long conversation:
“I wanted to get back to racing, honestly, with him, and I think that’s a lot of the conversation we had after the race. He came up to me and says ‘I guess I deserved it.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I think so.’
I’m not going to sit on this podcast and ever lie to you guys and say this was is an accident when it’s not. It wasn’t an accident. I meant to put him in the fence, but I didn’t mean to screw my team in the process, which maybe I should get the DVC ‘What An Idiot’ for costing my own team.
At the time, when you’re seeing red, that’s all that really matters. I saw an opportunity to not involve anyone else. I was about to to go to the back and I wanted to take him with me.
So, we talked and I think we’re in a better place where I think we’re willing to put the past behind and I think that we’re going to judge each other from this point forward. I think that’s the fairest way to do it.”
I guess we’ll see if Hamlin faces any penalty for his actions and comments here in the near future.
Here’s the full podcast: