A little contact doesn't hurt anybody. During Sunday's NOCO 400 at Martinsville Speedway, Denny Hamlin had a little run-in with one of the cars he owns. Bubba Wallace, driver of the No. 23 Toyota for 23XI Racing, battled his boss a little tough as Hamlin led the race. The little dust-up came while Hamlin was lapping Wallace.
NASCAR fans weren't quite sure what to make of the situation, with a driver and owner making contact on the racetrack. Was it all in good fun, or was there something more to it? Hamlin cleared the air on the latest episode of his podcast Actions Detrimental. When you race against cars you own, these things can happen. You don't want your drivers to just lay over and give up their spot and not fight for themselves.
Hamlin laughed as he talked about the incident.
"Me and Bubba got into it," Hamlin said. While he was trying to lap Wallace, No. 23 sure didn't look like a car Hamlin owned.
"So, I was behind Bubba for a really long time and I'm getting frustrated and I'm like, 'Gosh dang it.'... I moved up, and he moved up in front of me, and I just did that for about three or four laps, and I'm like, 'I've got to dive it in here.' And when I dove in, he came down, we hit, I knocked him up the track, and he, for four straight laps, had my rear tires off the racetrack."
After the race, Hamlin told Wallace, "If you wanted to hit me, that was fine for like once or twice but like, eventually, you gotta get off my ass. I am the leader of the race." Both drivers were able to finish inside the top 10, as Hamlin came home fourth and Wallace finished in ninth.
At the end of the day, it was hard racing, which is nothing out of the ordinary for Martinsville or any short track on the circuit. Two competitors put aside their off-the-track driver-owner relationship to do what they have to do, to have their best chance of winning.
"It's just a situation where he's fighting because he knows how important it is to stay on the lead lap, and I am fighting to put all these guys a lap down."
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