Denny Hamlin on Chase Elliott: “I got into him, he chose to retaliate.”
Denny Hamlin wasn’t worried about retaliation coming into Phoenix Raceway. However, it happened. Not in a blatant way. Elliott just refused to give an inch to Hamlin. Hamlin ended up in the wall.
Watch the video below.
On lap 26, Hamlin had a run on Chase Elliott off turn 4. Elliott slammed the door shut. Hamlin gave him a bump down the front-straight, just to let him know he didn’t like it.
Hamlin then took the lead and took control of the race. With the exception of Kyle Larson, who gave him a battle but blew a motor early.
81 laps remaining in the race, the #11 crew had a miscue. A small hiccup on the left side resulted in a loss of 2 positions on pit road. He entered the pits the leader, came out in 2nd.
Hamlin found himself in trouble once he lost clean air. The field took advantage.
With 46 to go, Hamlin and Elliott found themselves racing for position. Hamlin took the shortcut through the dogleg. He slid Elliott in turn 3 while battling inside the top 5. Elliott put the bumper to him. He bumps him again in turn 1.
Chase Elliott got a run off turn 2. He sent another bump in turn 3. Elliott was nearly clear on the bottom off turn 4. Not clear but he takes the position anyway. Elliott put Hamlin into the wall down the front straight. The crowd erupted. Hamlin left the scene with a tire rub.
37 to go, Hamlin blows a tire and he’s sent into the wall in turn 3. The crowd erupted again. Before the last restart, Hamlin was +3 over Brad Keselowski in the battle for the final transfer spot.
He didn’t need the position, he didn’t need a win. He didn’t need to bang fenders with Elliott. But, he did and he was sent to the garage as Chase Elliott went on to take the lead.
Hamlin was forced to a DNF.
How do you feel about the way you were raced?
“Well, we had a fast car all day. We did essentially our job. All day long, we put ourselves in good positions. Things just didn’t work out there at the end,” Hamlin responds to NBC by answering a different question.
You issued an apology after Martinsville. Was it to prevent this?
“Each person has their own opinion of how they do things. It just proves to the people that thought I was a bad guy — He would do the exact same thing, under the same circumstances.”
I got into him, he chose to retaliate.
“It’s part of racing. I got into him, he chose to retaliate. I’m in the garage and that’s the way it is.”
“This is the best car I’ve had in a very long time. We just got behind on a pit stop. That just gave those guys an opportunity to get close.”
Do you put any of the blame on yourself for what happened at Martinsville?
“Not really. No, I won’t. We’ll do the best job we can to go out there and win Homestead.”
After finishing 2nd, yet again, Elliott comments on the incident with Hamlin.
“I’ve had so many good opportunities. At some point, we just gotta close,” Elliott tells NBC.
“I’m gunna race guys how they race me and keep a smile on my face regardless,” Elliott talks about racing Hamlin at Phoenix. “I race guys the way they choose to race me and that’s the way I see it.”