Denny Hamlin turned heads with his podcast, “Actions Detrimental,” by saying that he intentionally fenced Ross Chastain at Phoenix Raceway. Days later, NASCAR issued penalties for his on-track actions.
According to a release from the sanctioning body, Hamlin has received a $50,000 fine for his intentional contact with Chastain. NASCAR also docked him 25 driver points while saying that he violated Sections 4.4: NASCAR Member Code of Conduct of the Rule Book.
The specific sections outlined in the penalty report include: “B. Attempting to manipulate the outcome of the Race or championship. Wrecking or spinning another vehicle, whether or not that vehicle is removed from Competition as a result; and D. Actions by a NASCAR Member that NASCAR finds to be detrimental to stock car racing or NASCAR.”
NASCAR’s SVP of Competition Weighed In
Following the penalty announcement, there were immediate questions about the decision. After all, the advertisement for races and seasons use fights and intentional wrecks as a way to sell tickets.
Elton Sawyer, NASCAR’s Senior VP of Competition, provided some comments about the situation on March 15. He appeared on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and explained that NASCAR viewed the collision between the No. 11 and the No. 1 as a “racing incident.” However, Hamlin’s admission on his podcast played a direct role.
“The way we look at these situations, they are all individual and unique to themselves,” Sawyer said on March 15, transcript courtesy of Racer’s Kelly Crandall. “When you look at this one this past weekend, we would have viewed that as a racing incident, but then 24 hours later have a competitor that has gone on a podcast — which I will say, we’re delighted Denny has a podcast. We think that’s great; he interacts with the fans.
“But when you start admitting you have intentionally done something that would compromise the results of the end of the race, then that rises to the level that we’re going to get involved. There’s no other way to look at that. We’re going to get involved in those situations. We’ve been consistent in the past with that, and we will be consistent going forward.”
The March 13 episode of “Actions Detrimental” featured Hamlin explaining how he went from running inside the top 10 to finishing 23rd. He said that he only had two new tires and that he was about to get passed by several other drivers. So he used the opportunity to take Chastain with him.
“My crew chief told me that there were 18 cars on the lead lap,” Hamlin said. “At that point, I said, ‘All right, well, I’m probably — live looking at a picture — I’m probably running sixth or seventh. I’m about to get passed by everybody behind me who’s on fresh tires. I’m about to finish in the mid-teens.’
“And I said, ‘You’re coming with me, buddy.’ It wasn’t a mistake. No, it wasn’t a mistake. I let the wheel go, and I said, ‘He’s coming with me.’”
Hamlin went on and explained that he and Chastain had a conversation after the incident in which the driver of the No. 1 said that he guessed he deserved that. They then both asked for a truce, which potentially put their issues behind them.
Hamlin Dropped Out of the Top 10 in Points
The driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry left Phoenix Raceway sitting seventh in the regular-season standings with 125 points. He will now drop outside of the top 10 after the penalty.
Hamlin will head toward Atlanta with 100 points to his name. This will put him just ahead of 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace (92). He should be 13th in the standings after Alex Bowman, William Byron, and Kyle Larson all received 100-point penalties that dropped them out of the top 10.
Sitting 13th is not ideal for Hamlin, but he will have plenty of time to make up points before the playoffs. There are still 22 races remaining in the regular season, many of which take place at tracks where he has previous wins. This includes Richmond Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway where he won races in 2022.