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“You Can’t Race That Way”, Denny Hamlin, Chase Briscoe Exchange Words on Pit Road After Aggressive Racing on Overtime Restart

The closing laps of Sunday Afternoon’s Verizon 200 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Road Course was a bloodbath, there’s no way to sugarcoat it. While AJ Allmendinger captured his second career win in the NASCAR Cup Series, many drivers were upset with the way they were raced, as well as the way that things played out, including Chase Briscoe and Denny Hamlin, who restarted on the front row for the second and final NASCAR Overtime attempt, but both recorded finishes outside the top-20.

The pair exchanged the lead back and forth a number of times throughout the final two laps of the event, starting in the very first corner on the restart, when Briscoe’s Ford Mustang was pushed off of the racing surface. In an attempt to save his chances at a playoff berth, Briscoe cut through the grass, rejoining the track next to Denny Hamlin, who he yielded the top spot to seconds later, in hopes that his stop and go penalty would be cleared.

It wasn’t cleared, and both Briscoe and Hamlin were still racing hard for – what was thought to be — the race win, when the Mitchell, Indiana-native got into the back of Hamlin, spinning the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota around, ending Hamlin’s chances at the victory, while Briscoe still needed to serve his penalty, something the rookie says wasn’t even relayed to him until he got to turn 10.

After the race concluded, the two drivers had a discussion on pit road, in which Briscoe attempted to explain to Hamlin that he wasn’t aware of the penalty. Understandably, Hamlin was frustrated, as not only did he lose a potential victory – which would have been his first of the year — but he also lost a major number of points to Kyle Larson, who brought his No. 5 machine home inside the top-five.

 

 

After the discussion between the two drivers concluded, NBC Sports decided to catch up with each of the drivers, to get their side of the story, as well as their thoughts about what his scuffle means moving forward.

“I agree it’s not on purpose,” Hamlin told NBC Sports’ Dave Burns. “My team told me he had a penalty right away, and to me it’s obvious, when you cut the racetrack and you end up in the lead, you’re going to have a penalty. So, lack of awareness, and then he say there and raced me for a lap, runs right into the back of me, I mean, you can’t race that way.”

While the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season has been one of great consistency for Hamlin, the goose egg in the wins column has to be frustrating for the Chesterfield, Virginia-native, who was one of the series’ winningest drivers throughout the 2020 season, collecting seven victories, second to only Kevin Harvick who had nine – and is also winless in 2021.

“I don’t think he did it maliciously,” Hamlin continued. “I’ve raced with him for a year now, and he’s not that type of person, but it’s just bad judgement.”

Later, Briscoe mentioned that the wreck with Hamlin wasn’t intentional, saying that he’s “never wrecked anybody on purpose in [his] life,” but that the Joe Gibbs Racing driver probably didn’t realize that he had no idea about the penalty until they got into turn 10, and by then Hamlin had already been spun around.

 

 

“Obviously he’s upset, I would have been too, he just came down there and asked what I was doing,” Briscoe told Kelli Stavist. “I don’t think he realized, that I didn’t even know I had a penalty until we got to turn 10, I asked my spotter after the race and didn’t ever hear, but we got to turn 10 and actually exited ten, and that’s when he said ‘hey, we gotta stop at the exit to turn 10’.”

For the 26-year-old, Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Road Course was probably his best remaining shot at making the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in his rookie season, with the struggles for Stewart-Haas Racing on the 550hp tracks, as well as the uncontrolled chaos that is Daytona International Speedway, especially as a regular season finale. While Sunday will show as another disappointing result, the experience of running at the front of the field and racing for the win, will be of help to the young driver in the future.

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