In his first public comments since Sunday’s race at Martinsville, Denny Hamlin stood by his claim that he did not intentionally crash Chase Elliott from the lead in the closing laps of the First Data 500.
“I know in my head there was absolutely no intent,” Hamlin said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Tradin’ Paint” while visiting a new Toyota plant in north Texas.
The comments come four days after Hamlin spun Elliott in Turn 3 with two laps left before the scheduled distance.
Hamlin stated his case in response to a question about the apology he posted on Twitter after the race, which opened the third round of the Cup playoffs.
“I was on my way home, just thinking about things,” Hamlin said. “Obviously, what I was being regretful for was being too aggressive at that time. I know in my head there was absolutely no intent. I pretty much laid it all out there. It’s the first time I’ve been ever in a situation like that before.
“I haven’t seen any tapes coming up of me saying (or) showing that ain’t true. I think my reputation on the race track and the way I drive speak for itself.”
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver said “nothing will change” about how he drives with two races left in the current playoff round, which will decide the four drivers who advance to the championship race.
“Wrecks happen in racing,” Hamlin said. “It has for a billion years. It’s not the first, and it won’t be the last. I can guarantee that.”
Hamlin said he’s “not worried” about how other drivers will race him in the aftermath of the incident, which led to him and Elliott having a heated confrontation on the backstretch.
“I’ve told them however you want to race me, is absolutely fine. I’ll be OK with that,” Hamlin said. “I’m not worried about it, I have no time to be worried about anything like that. We have two more races to get ourselves in the final four. Texas is the first step to doing that.”
With teams on track Friday at Texas Motor Speedway for the first time since last weekend’s race, Hamlin said he has not communicated with Elliott since, but has tried reaching out.
“I have offered to have contact and a conversation, but it’s difficult when someone is mad and they choose not to,” Hamlin said.