Conflict between Denny Hamlin and Ross Chastain has once again taken center stage. The driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry has made it clear he won’t be cutting any breaks when battling Chastain in future Cup Series races due to a late incident that ruined his day at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The second wreck of the summer involving the two drivers took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 10. Hamlin was nearly clear on the outside with 14 laps remaining in the Quaker State 400 when Chastain moved up the track, clipped the rear of the No. 11, and sent it spinning in front of the field. Instead of taking fourth place during the final stage, Hamlin went sliding down the frontstretch.
“It’s all in whatever level I’m willing to take. It’s just another unfortunate circumstance for him,” Hamlin said about the incident after finishing 25th. “I think it’s just that everyone has their different tolerance levels, certainly, but you guys know I’ve reached my peak.”
Hamlin also told NBC Sports that “things just work themselves out in the end.” He shied away from questions about any retaliation in the future, but he confirmed that he wouldn’t be “cutting any breaks” when racing against Chastain.
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Chastain Listed Another Reason for the Contact
This is not the first time that Chastain and Hamlin have drawn attention on the race track. The first time took place at World Wide Technology Raceway when Chastain sent the No. 11 Toyota hard into the outside wall. Hamlin then spent much of the race driving slowly in front of his fellow competitor and making his day difficult without actually hitting him.
Hamlin met with reporters after the original incident and said that NASCAR is a self-policing sport. He made comments about potential retaliation while saying that “it comes back around” when it means the most.
Chastain took exception to those that compared the Atlanta incident to WWTR. He said that his No. 1 Chevrolet was “too tight” after it sustained damage in a nine-car incident earlier in the race, which started when Martin Truex Jr. spun off the nose of the No. 1.
“This one is so different because I had so much damage,” Chastain said, quote courtesy of NBC Sports. “You all know that I would take full responsibility if I just ran into him, but I had so much damage. I was so much tighter.
“We had done a lot to free the car up. It was just way too tight, and I just couldn’t carry the throttle that I could earlier. I still lifted some, but it wasn’t enough. I don’t put this one anywhere near the other incidents.”
The Mayor Had Some Strong Comments From the Booth
Chastain was a topic of conversation throughout the Quaker State 400. A nine-car crash started with him pushing Truex, and it led to comments from Austin Dillon about how the No. 1 wrecks “half the field.” Aric Almirola’s radio also featured some spicy statements about Chastain.
Chastain sparked some comments from both Dale Earnhardt Jr. and The Mayor, Jeff Burton. They listened to a radio broadcast where Chastain said that the contact with Hamlin was his fault and then responded with a discussion about the Florida native’s aggressive style of racing.
“OK, ‘my fault,’ but it keeps happening,” Burton said during the broadcast. “I love Ross Chastain. He’s a really good race car driver, but he’s got to find a way, Junior, to run these races without constantly making contact.”
The Mayor continued and made a strong prediction about the future. He said that Chastain will not win the Cup Series championship if he “doesn’t clean it up” because the other drivers will make sure that he doesn’t. Based on Hamlin’s responses after the Quaker State 400, Burton’s prediction could come true.