It was quite an adventurous day for Kyle Larson during Sunday's HighPoint.com 400 at Pocono Raceway. It went from an early spin and contact with the wall that could have easily ended his day to having the race lead with fewer than 20 laps to go.
It was all for naught, however, as Larson lined up side by side with Denny Hamlin for a restart with eight laps left in the race. As Hamlin's No.11 and Larson's No. 5 raced into Turn 1, Hamlin got beside Larson and forced Larson's car out of his line and into the outside wall.
Hamlin, the eventual winner of the race, later claimed he and Larson did not touch. Larson didn't see it the same way, and he let Hamlin know under yellow as he brushed up against his No. 11 on the front stretch.
The move Hamlin made was very similar to the move he made on Ross Chastain in this race in 2022.
A comparison of Denny Hamlin?s move on Kyle Larson this year to his move on Ross Chastain last year. #NASCAR
See anything different? ? pic.twitter.com/3QE0HUhUpl
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) July 24, 2023
Kyle Larson Sounds Off on Denny Hamlin Incident
Larson was well aware of that move as he went into Turn 1, and it appears Hamlin pulled the same move, Larson told NASCAR.com's Zach Sturniolo.
"I was nervous of the move that happened because he made it work on Ross last year and he dirtied him up," Larson said. "He knows and Ross deserved it last year for all the times that he got into Denny."
As for Larson, he doesn't believe it was necessary and that he deserves to be raced with respect at least through the first turn.
"I felt like I didn't. I deserved to be raced with respect at least through Turn 1. But he knew that was gonna be his only opportunity to beat me with bad dirty air was," Larson said. "So I got used up."
Hamlin didn't reach the same conclusion, sharing his own opinion on what happened with Larson.
Hamlin used some time during his victory press conference to question Fox Sports' Bob Pockrass asking about how Larson compared this incident to the incident with Chastain last season.
Denny Hamlin responds to Kyle Larson saying that the move was like the one Hamlin pulled on Ross Chastain last year at Pocono and he (Larson) didn?t deserve to be raced that way. pic.twitter.com/MiWi9t7Z3q
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) July 24, 2023
"Same move he made to Bubba, did he mention that or no?" Hamlin said. "Gotcha ... We're racing for the win. Are you kidding me? ... We're all racing for a win. And I guarantee you: Roles reversed, it goes the same way."
Both drivers are friends away from the track, but it sure appears the two are far from their last issues on the race track.
It sure seems as if Hamlin likes his role playing the victim. One thing is for sure: The sold-out crowd at Pocono Raceway wasn't too thrilled with the outcome of Sunday's race. Like the Hamlin versus Chastain battle from 2022, it appears it is Hamlin versus Larson — or maybe it's just Hamlin versus Hendrick Motorsports in general.
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