Denny Hamlin just dropped a major truth bomb on his Actions Detrimental podcast that could have disciplinary implications for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver.
On the final restart of the United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix Raceway, Hamlin was lined up in sixth place, but he was in a rough spot, as he only had two fresh tires while many of his competitors behind him had a full new set. When his No. 11 Toyota pushed high heading into Turn 1 on the next-to-last lap, Hamlin knew that his chances of scoring a decent finish were pretty much over. But, rather than merely accept his fate, Hamlin opted to spice things up and purposely forced Ross Chastain, his rival from 2022, into the wall, ending the Trackhouse Racing driver's chances to mount a late-race comeback. Talk about actions detrimental.
"It wasn't a mistake," Hamlin admitted on his podcast. "I let the wheel go, and I said, 'He's coming with me.'"
Denny and Ross had their fair share of run-ins last year, with Chastain most notably spinning out Hamlin at World Wide Technology Raceway and Atlanta Motor Speedway. Hamlin also blames Chastain for their collision at this year's Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum in Los Angeles.
"I said for awhile you've got to do something to get these guys' attention, whatever," Hamlin said. "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. The fact is while I'm sitting here talking, I'm going to call things the way I see it."
"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 f***ed anyway, I'm just going to make sure he finishes f***ed right with me."
Despite being brutally honest about his purposeful contact with Chastain, Hamlin insisted that they talked things out and that everything is now water under the bridge.
"When he knows it's coming, he is the hardest guy to wreck on the planet," Hamlin said. "But I just, I wanted to to get back to racing honestly with him, and I think that that's a lot of the conversation that we had after."
"He came up to me, and he says, 'I guess I deserve it.' And I said, 'Yeah, I think so.' I'm not gonna sit here on this podcast and ever lie to you guys and say, 'Well, this is an accident,' when it's not. It wasn't an accident. I meant to put them in the fence, but I didn't mean to screw my team in the process. But at the time when you're seeing red, that's all that really matters. I just saw an opportunity to not involve anyone else, I was about to go to the back and I wanted to take him with me. So we talked, and I think that we are in a better place where I think we're willing to put the past behind us, and I think that we're going to judge each other from this point forward, and I think that's the fairest way to do it."
Things may be smoothed over between Hamlin and Chastain, but NASCAR officials will still being doing their own investigating regarding the Phoenix incident. During a Tuesday interview on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio's This Morning Drive, NASCAR senior vice president of competition Elton Sawyer said that "without a doubt it's on our radar." According to Section 4.4.B of the Cup Rule Book, NASCAR drivers can be fined anywhere from 25-50 points and/or $50,000-$100,000 for "wrecking or spinning another vehicle, whether or not that vehicle is removed from competition as a result."
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