Denny Hamlin has been hit with a major penalty for intentionally hitting Ross Chastain during Sunday’s race at Phoenix.
Hamlin admitted to intentionally targeting Chastain on the race’s final restart on this week’s Actions Detrimental. The JGR wheelman knew he was moving towards the back of the pack, so he put Chastain in the wall in an attempt for both drivers to lose ground. The duo ended up finishing 23rd and 24th on the day.
Now, Hamlin is paying the price, as NASCAR announced some major penalties for the veteran driver.
“NASCAR fined Denny Hamlin $50,000 and docked him 25 driver points on Wednesday for his intentional contact with Ross Chastain late in Sunday’s Cup Series race at Phoenix,” announced NASCAR. “On the next-to-last lap of the race, Hamlin pushed high into Turn 1 in his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and took Chastain and his No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet toward the wall, making contact. Hamlin, who was in sixth place before the race’s final restart, finished 23rd, one spot ahead of Chastain. They were the final two cars on the lead lap.
“The section of the NASCAR Rule Book specifically mentioned in the penalty was Sections 4.4: NASCAR Member Code of Conduct. Within that section, these items were detailed: B. Attempting to manipulate the outcome of the race or championship and wrecking or spinning another vehicle, whether or not that vehicle is removed from competition as a result. D. Actions NASCAR finds to be detrimental to stock racing or NASCAR.”
Denny Hamlin on Ross Chastain incident: ‘You’re coming with me buddy.’
Moreover, Hamlin explained why he did what he did throughout earlier in the week, basically telling on himself to the NASCAR world.
“So at the end of the race, me and Ross go into it,” Hamlin said. “Basically here’s the thing, right? I got to the end of the race, I saw that he was on the outside of me. I went into Turn 1 with the mindset that I’m going to get the best finish that I can get. I’m on two tires and I go into turn 1 and while I even went shallow on speed, my car plowed. .. They were calling the 1 car on the outside. So at that point, I knew that I was screwed I was about to go backwards.”
Knowing he was losing ground and quickly, Denny Hamlin just let the wheel go. He made no qualms about it, he did it on purpose. Hamlin said he didn’t do it for anything from last year. He noted being hit at the Clash as his reasoning. So when he saw the chance, he took it.
“I said, ‘You’re coming with me buddy.’ That’s what I did. It wasn’t a mistake, no it wasn’t a mistake. I unleashed, I let the wheel go and said he’s coming with me.”
Outsider’s Jonathan Howard contributed to this article.