The truth will set you free. But it also might cost you a big chunk of dough. Denny Hamlin found that out Wednesday when NASCAR announced that it was fining Hamlin $50,000 and docking him 25 driver points after Hamlin admitted that he intentionally wrecked Ross Chastain last Sunday at Phoenix Raceway. The driver of the No. 11 Toyota spilled the beans on his podcast, "Actions Detrimental." When he realized in the next-to-last lap that his chances of a decent finish were remote, he forced Chastain into the wall. Denny Hamlin was fined by NASCAR for telling the truth.
Chastain's car was on four fresh tires, while Hamlin had only changed two. With six or seven cars in front of him and the ones behind him on fresh tires, Hamlin was resigned to a finish in the mid-teens and decided, "You're coming with me, buddy," in reference to Chastain.
Hamlin placed 23rd in the race, the United Rentals Work United 500, while Chastain placed 24th. The event was won by William Byron, who is the leader in the NASCAR playoff ranks and sits in fourth right now in the NASCAR points race.
Actions Detrimental, You Say?
Hamlin's admission of guilt on Monday night perked up the ears of the brass at NASCAR on Tuesday.
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."
Eventually, the association's investigation found that Hamlin was guilty of manipulating the outcome of a race, wrecking another vehicle, and acting in a way "detrimental to stock car racing or NASCAR."
His punishments were announced Wednesday as part of a large group of penalties that NASCAR revealed.
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."
Ironically, the last time NASCAR penalized a driver for an intentional crash also involved Hamlin. That time, however, he was the victim, spun out by Byron in September at Texas Motor Speedway. Byron was given the same punishment of 25 points docked and a $50,000 fine.
Hamlin and Chastain Have a Rocky History
This is far from the first time Hamlin and Chastain have gone after each other on the track, sometimes to the detriment of their own performance.
Their history dates back to a run-in at the World Wide Technology Raceway in June 2022, when Chastain wrecked Hamlin and Hamlin subsequently drove Chastain onto the apron. That incident sparked a back-and-forth, which included Chastain wrecking Hamlin at Atlanta in July and disrupting him in the Clash at the Coliseum in February. Hamlin has blamed Ross for his series of poor finishes and left pundits postulating that Denny would be out for revenge.
Hamlin claims that this incident had nothing to do with their altercation at the Clash, saying, "... you've got to do something to get these guys' attention. ... Ross doesn't like it when I speak his name in the media and when I have this microphone. ... Until you get a microphone, you can then say whatever you want about me."
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