NASCAR Cup Series
Chase Elliott Wins at Home, Posts Third Win of Season
Jul 10, 2022
Immediately after another incident between himself and Ross Chastain, Denny Hamlin wasn’t venting over the radio, he didn’t lash out and just waited for the explanation.
The first came from spotter Chris Lambert, who said he 'didn’t see a sign of loose or anything.' Next came crew chief Chris Gabehart.
"He just came up the hill and wrecked you. I can't say more without looking at the SMT (data) but the moral of the story is no lesson learned."
As it turns out, several lessons were imparted from Hamlin to Chastain after their incident at Gateway last month. Chastain now has Hamlin's cell phone number and they've had several conversations over the past five weeks. But leaving Atlanta, and the incident while racing just outside of the top-five in the closing laps, Hamlin and Gabehart felt like the message hadn't landed yet.
"We were in really good position and we were about to be clear of (Ross Chastain) and be in third in the outside line," Hamlin said. "I was really happy with where I was at for sure. I think the 1 probably sensed that we were about to clear him, so he chased us up there and got into us."
Chastain was very adamant that it wasn’t as egregious as it looked.
"This one is so different (from Gateway) because I had so much damage," Chastain said. "Y'all know me and that I would take full responsibility if I just ran into him. I had so much damage and I was so much tighter and couldn't carry the throttle I could earlier. I lifted some, but it wasn't enough. I don't put this one anywhere near the other incidents."
Incidents, plural, which is the point of contention.
During the race, during that radio exchange when told what happened, the conversation was brief.
"Huh, you make decisions."
"That's right, you make decisions."
The speculation is that, if not Hamlin, someone wronged by Chastain over the course of the summer will retaliate during the playoffs to get the message across. Does Hamlin think Chastain can win the championship given all the strife surrounding his driving habits this season?
"Everyone has different tolerance levels and as you all know, I’ve reached my peak," Hamlin said.
What does he do about it?
"It all works itself out in the end."
In other words, Chastain suspects he’s going to have to go right back to his recently called folder and reach out to ‘Hamlin, Denny’ again. With two wins this season, he has a championship he is poised to contend for over the next several months.
"In the car, it’s no different, just keep trying to win," Chastain said. "Now, I’ll explain my side to him, that I had damage and that I overestimated how fast I could go in the corner with the draft. I just ran into him."
Chastain infamously drew the ire of Hamlin, Chase Elliott and Joey Logano at Gateway for his hard driving. Hamlin spent several laps after a restart at that track blocking Chastain while he was trying to reach minimum speed. Hamlin publiclu warned Chastain that night as well.
"You have to fence these guys hard, they have to learn the hard way," Hamlin said. "And it has to be meaningful."