Denny Hamlin’s comments about incident with Ross Chastain on NASCAR’s ‘radar’ Josh Berry answers critics with Phoenix run Winners and losers at Phoenix Raceway Time runs out on Kevin Harvick after four-tire pit call Jeff Gordon: Confiscated parts ‘weighing on our minds’ at Hendrick Motorsports
NASCAR will review actions and comments Denny Hamlin as regards his contact with Ross Chastain on the last lap of Sunday’s race at Phoenix Raceway.
Elton Sawyer, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition, said Tuesday that “it’s on our radar without a doubt,” in an interview with Morning Drive on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Sawyer said he became aware of Hamlin’s comments Monday night and series officials planned to discuss the matter on Tuesday morning.
Hamlin pinned Chastain against the wall as they raced for position, approaching the checkered flag in Phoenix. Hamlin said on his Doing Harm podcast that he intended to do so..
Section 4.4.B of the Cup Rulebook states that a competitor may be penalized 25 to 50 points and/or fined $50,000 to $100,000 for a range of infractions, including “Destroying or spinning another vehicle, regardless of whether the vehicle has been withdrawn from the competition. as a result.”
Hamlin only had two fresh tires compared to many others with four fresher tires, including Chastain. Hamlin said his car was misbehaving in turn 1 and “I knew at that moment that I had screwed it up. I was about to go back. I had all four wheelers on my (rear). … My crew chief told me there were 18 cars on the lead lap. At this point, I said, “OK, I’m probably running sixth or seventh, I’ll soon be passed by everyone behind me with fresh tires.” I’m going to finish in my teens. I said, “You (referring to Chastain) are coming with me, mate.”
“It wasn’t a mistake. No, it wasn’t a mistake. I let go of the steering wheel and said he was coming with me. It was interesting because I heard people say what it was like last year or this year. I crashed on the Clash. I don’t know Ross sees it that way. I think he’s still curious about what I think of Clash. I don’t know why he cares what I think of Clash.
“I already said that you have to do something to get the attention of these guys, whatever. I said it. I think Ross doesn’t like it when I say his name in the media and when I have this microphone. I told him that I have a microphone and I will call as I see it. Until you get the microphone, you can say whatever you want about me. The point is that as long as I sit here and talk, I will call things as I see them.
“Sometimes I have to challenge myself. I’m the one (expletive) who lost as many points as he did. At the time I said I would end up anyway (expletive), I just want to make sure he ends up (expletive) right with me.
“It’s difficult because sometimes people want me to react immediately. I don’t want to involve more cars. I told you guys in private, my friends, that it’s hard to be in a position where you’re taking revenge on a person and not involving an innocent bystander. It’s really hard to do. Then other people get mad at you because you do something that affected their race when they had nothing to do with it. I never wanted to do this. Pocono, unfortunately, someone got caught doing it when Ross bounced off the wall.
“Here I saw that we were the only people upstairs, so I said I was going to send him to the fence and lock him up. My goofy (expletive) got caught on this because when I got pinned, he was between me and the wall, so I was all screwed up and lost a bunch of ground for my team, which was stupid. At the time, I was going to finish as a teenager anyway, because my car was just plowing here, I was about to be eaten by all these new tires. I just thought that if I was going to give this guy trouble, then it would only happen.
“So he bounced off the wall. My ideal situation was that I was just going to hit him on the fence a bit and continue.”
Hamlin also continued on his podcast:
“He really had a jump, he downshifted faster. He brake-checked me several times. You saw that from the (on-board camera) on the way back he hit the brakes a couple of times. I didn’t let go at all. It didn’t matter to me. After checking the brakes, I entered the next turn and tried. I’ll be honest with you… (Chastain) It’s hard to spin. When he knows that this will happen, he is the hardest to destroy on the planet.
“Honestly, I wanted to get back to racing with him and I think we talked about it a lot after the race. He came up to me and said, “I think I deserved it.” I said, “Yes, I think so.” I’m not going to sit on this podcast and ever lie to you guys and say it was an accident when it wasn’t. It wasn’t an accident. I was going to put him in the fence, but I wasn’t going to let my team down in the process. … At the time you see red, that’s all that really matters. I saw an opportunity to not involve anyone else. I was going to go back and wanted to take it with me.
“We’ve talked and I think we’re in the best position where I think we’re ready to put the past behind us and I think we’ll be judging each other from now on. I think this is the most honest way to do it.”
Hamlin and Chastain have had several conflicts since last season.
Among the most notable events was a run at the World Wide Technology Raceway last June, when Chastain’s contact wrecked Hamlin. Later in the race, Hamlin expressed his displeasure by running Chastain onto the apron. Hamlin later thwarted Chastain. Hamlin didn’t give Chastain a place in the Poconos took the lead and Chastain hit the wall and crashed. Chastain’s contact brought Hamlin to the Clash at the Coliseum in February..
Avondale, Arizona – Josh Berry heard a noise about whether he had a seat in car number 9 for Chase Elliott.
After Hendrick Motorsports went 1-2-3 with William Byron, Kyle Larson And Alex Bowman Earlier this month in Las Vegas, Berry finished 29th, with doubters doubting the team was keeping Berry in the oval race car until Elliot returned with a broken leg.
MORE: Winners and Losers in Phoenix
Of course, it was easy to criticize Berry, ignoring the fact that he didn’t drive the Next Gen car until the weekend in Las Vegas, and that a throttle problem in that race also made his day harder.
As it hung over him, finishing Sunday 10th in Phoenix seemed special to Berry.
“I feel like I got some unnecessary criticism last week for getting into a really tough spot filling in for Chase, my first start in a Next Gen car, no preparation,” Berry told NBC Sports after the Phoenix race.
“I feel like I was being held on fire. We’ve been hard at work this week to dispel doubts that we can do it, and I feel like we’ve succeeded.”
Berry used four fresh tires for the final pit stop. He received five spots in his last two cautions, which helped put all four of Hendrick’s cars in the top ten.
Berry’s performance earned him the praise of Jeff Gordon, vice chairman of Hendrick Motorsports.
“I’m really impressed with the (Sunday) effort,” Gordon said after the race. “Most of the race I was on the 9th field. It didn’t start out so great. To see how they just keep working on changes to the car, changes to track conditions, just keep moving forward.
“Then he got it all mixed up, man. In those relaunches, it was right in the middle, with three and four widths. I was a little nervous because they have quite a lot of points and they needed to finish hard.
“It was great to see Josh understand that. This will boost his confidence. I don’t think anyone can explain how difficult this situation is. I mean, an Xfinity car today couldn’t be more opposite than a Cup car throughout history, as far as I can remember these things are so different from today.
“Getting out of the Xfinity car and jumping into the Cup car, which is so different, I think it’s a big and time consuming task. We put him in a sticky situation last week. This week I saw him putting effort and time, sim, adjusting to the seat, doing his homework. It really showed up.”
Phoenix marked the end of West Coast Cup racing at Auto Club Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and Phoenix Raceway.
Kevin Harvick and Alex Bowman were the only drivers to finish in the top 10 in all three races. William Byron has won twice (Las Vegas and Phoenix) and Kyle Bush won at Auto Club Speedway.
Here are the top 10 points scored in the three races on the West Coast:
136 – William Byron
114 – Kevin Harvick
113 – Alex Bowman
113 – Kyle Larson
110 – Ross Chastain
104 – Kyle Busch
103 – Denny Hamlin
93 – Christopher Bell