On the penultimate lap of last weekend’s race at Phoenix Raceway, Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Toyota TRD Camry, made contact with the No. 1 NASCAR Chevy Camaro ZL1 of Ross Chastain, sending the latter into the wall. Hamlin was found to have intentionally chased Chastain up the racetrack, and was assessed penalties as a result.
The sanctioning body fined Hamlin $50,000 and docked him 25 driver points for violating Sections 4.4 of the NASCAR Member Code of Conduct. As outlined in that section, Hamlin was found to be at fault for “Attempting to manipulate the outcome of the race or championship and wrecking or spinning another vehicle, whether or not that vehicle was removed from competition as a result,” as well as “Actions NASCAR finds to be detrimental to stock car racing or NASCAR.”
Interestingly, Hamlin admitted to intentionally wrecking Chastain’s NASCAR Chevy on his appropriately titled Actions Detrimental podcast on Monday. Hamlin stated that the move was “revenge” for the several previous run-ins he’s had with Chastain in the past, the most recent of which occurred at the preseason Clash at the Coliseum. During this event, Chastain’s No. 1 Camaro and Hamlin’s No. 11 Camry made contact, causing Hamlin to spin out.
“When he knows it’s coming, he is the hardest guy to wreck on the planet,” Hamlin said on his podcast. “I wanted 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.’ 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.”
Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition for NASCAR, said that Hamlin’s outright admittance of guilt factored into the decision to penalize him. “When you look at this one this past weekend, we would have viewed that as a racing incident, but then it’s 24 hours later and you have a competitor that has gone on a podcast, which I will say, we’re delighted that Denny has a podcast,” he said in a press conference. “We think that’s great, interacts with the fans, but when you start admitting that you have intentionally done something that would compromise the results of the end of the race, then that rises to a level that we’re going to get involved.”