Would retaliation by Chase Elliott send wrong message?

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Denny Hamlin says that if Chase Elliott retaliates against Kyle Busch for Wednesday night’s wreck at Darlington Raceway, then “the result might be equal, but it’s not equal as far as intention.”

Busch hooked Elliott on the frontstretch late in Wednesday’s race as they ran in the top three. Elliott, who finished 38th, gave Busch the middle finger after the incident.

Busch, who finished second, said that he made a mistake.

“That was entirely unintentional,” he said of the contact. “I’ll definitely reach out to (Elliott) and tell him I’m sorry, tell him I hate that it happened and all I can do, but that doesn’t change the outcome of the night.”

MORE: NASCAR America at Home – “What now?’ between Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch

Hamlin, who is Busch’s teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, suggested that retaliation by Elliott might not send the best message.

“I would say that if Chase were to retaliate, you know that’s international, right?” Hamlin said Thursday during a Zoom call with media. “We all know it’s intentional. What Kyle did was unintentional. Now, is the score really even if one is intentional and one is not? Probably not.”

Elliott has not spoken publicly about the incident. His crew chief, Alan Gustafson, said after the race: “You get tired of getting ran over like that. (Busch’s) explanation I’m sure is accurate, but it doesn’t change it.”

Hamlin, who won Wednesday night’s Cup race for his second victory of the season, said Elliott doesn’t need to retaliate to gain respect from fellow competitors.

“It’s a no-win (situation) to push back,” Hamlin said. “I don’t think you have to because of pressure either from your team or the media or whatever. The drivers respect Chase. They respect whoever it might be.

“If Chase doesn’t retaliate, no driver thinks any less of him. Every driver out there saw that Kyle just made a small mistake. He misjudged. We don’t go out there and expect Chase to do anything to him. If he does … that raises your eyebrow more than what Kyle did, in my opinion. I don’t think that Chase needs to fight for relevance. We all know that he’s good, he’s talented and he’s going to win a ton of races.”

Hamlin had a high-profile incident with Elliott during the 2017 Cup playoffs at Martinsville. Hamlin wrecked Elliott late in the race while Elliott led. They had an animated discussion after the race.

“I knew I made a mistake when it happened,” Hamlin said of the Martinsville incident with Elliott. “If you look at my interview, I said I crashed because I ran into him.”

Two weeks later at Phoenix, Elliott nudged Hamlin, who hit the wall. Hamlin’s car developed a tire rub that eventually cut the tire and sent the car into the wall.

Hamlin said the Martinsville incident — and what Elliott did at Phoenix — hasn’t carried over.

“I don’t race him any different,” Hamlin said. “I race him tough, just the same as I did before I crashed him at Martinsville. That’s a sign of respect for me is to race someone tough, but there are times where we don’t always have to race tough. You have to race smart, too, and that’s what wins races.”

Hamlin illustrated that point by referencing his feud with Brad Keselowski early in Keselowski’s career.

Their issues reached a boil late in the 2009 season. Hamlin and Keselowski made contact multiple times during a Nationwide race at Phoenix before Keselowski spun Hamlin. Hamlin suggested he would seek revenge the next week at Miami and did so, turning Keselowski.

“Me and him would get into it week in, week out,” Hamlin said. “His mentality as a young guy trying to prove himself in the sport was that, ‘You can’t push me around. I’m going to stick up for myself. If you cut me off, I’m just going to crash you.’ 

“While he did make it to the Cup Series, it’s when he started thinking with his mind, in my opinion, is when he became more successful.”

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Results, point standings after Truck race at Las Vegas

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Austin Hill won Friday night’s Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for his second win of 2020.

He beat Sheldon Creed for the victory.

The top five was completed by Tanner Gray, Stewart Friesen and Chandler Smith.

IndyCar driver Conor Daly finished 18th and Travis Pastrana was 21st.

Click here for the race results.

Point Standings

With his win, Austin Hill is the first driver to advance to the second round of the playoffs.

Todd Gilliland is last in the playoff standings with 2,050 points. He is 13 points behind Ben Rhodes.

Click here for the standings.

Austin Hill wins Las Vegas Truck race

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Austin Hill won Friday night’s Truck Series playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, leading the final 39 laps to score the victory.

Hill took the lead on a restart and held off charges from Sheldon Creed over the final 20 laps.

Creed’s progress was slowed with 11 laps to go when he got loose and scraped the wall in Turn 1. He was never able to get close enough to Hill to make a challenge.

Creed dominated the early portion of the race, leading 89 laps before he struggled to get going on the final restart and briefly fell to seventh.

The win is the second of the year for Hill. He’s the first playoff driver to win in the postseason and it come after he finished 25th at Bristol.

“We didn’t have the best truck tonight by no means,” Hill told FS1. “Pit crew did a hell of job on that last pit stop getting me into the position I needed to. I just had to go out there and get it. … Sheldon was definitely way faster than me. … I was probably looking in my mirror more than I was our front. I knew he was better than we were.”

The top five was completed by Tanner Gray, Stewart Friesen and Chandler Smith.

More: Race results and point standings

STAGE 1 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

STAGE 2 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Tanner Gray, Stewart Friesen and Chandler Smith all matched their best results of the season … While he was the first driver to finish one lap down, IndyCar driver Conor Daly placed 18th in his first career Truck Series start … Travis Pastrana placed 21st in his second start of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Rachael Lessard finished 20th after he had to pit early in the race following contact with the wall … Ben Rhodes finished 23rd after he spun from contact with Stewart Friesen and hit the inside wall on Lap 84 … Jordan Anderson’s engine expired on the ensuing restart. He finished 32nd.

NOTABLE: Natalie Decker, who was not medically cleared to compete Friday night, was treated and released from the infield care center.

WHAT’S NEXT: Race at Talladega Superspeedway, 1 p.m. ET Oct. 3 on FS1

 

Natalie Decker not medically cleared for Las Vegas Truck race

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NASCAR announced right before Friday night’s Truck Series race that Natalie Decker hadn’t been medically cleared to compete.

No details were provided about the issue that prevented Decker from being cleared. During the final stage of the race, NASCAR announced she had been treated and released from the infield medical center.

The Niece Motorsports driver would have started 23rd. Due to her No. 44 truck having cleared inspection and having been placed on the starting grid she was credited with a last-place finish.

Decker has made 11 starts this year. She missed the June 28 race at Pocono after she was hospitalized due to bile duct complications related to her gallbladder removal in December.

Brandon Brown hopes to shed underdog role in Xfinity playoffs

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Brandon Brown knows the odds are against him advancing beyond the first round of the Xfinity playoffs.

“If I went out and we did a survey and we asked 1,000 NASCAR fans to create a playoff bracket, I guarantee that 90 to 99 percent of them have me getting eliminated in the first round,” he told NBC Sports.

But that’s not stopping him.

Brown is in the Xfinity playoffs for the first time, earning the final spot last weekend with his family-run team. He enters Saturday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) last in the 12-driver field. Brown has 2,000 points and is 10 points behind Ross Chastain, who holds the final transfer spot, entering the first round.

MORE: Saturday’s Xfinity race start time, lineup, forecast

Regardless where he is in the standings, Brown still met the team’s preseason goal of making the playoffs.

“It’s hard to put it into words,” the 27-year-old said of making the playoffs. “It’s so exciting and so thrilling. We’re just happy. Life is good. We’re seeing the fruits of our labor.”

Much of the Xfinity playoff focus will be on Chase Briscoe, who enters with a series-high seven wins. Or Austin Cindric, who won the regular-season title. Or Justin Allgaier, who has won three of the last seven races and could be the favorite if he makes it to the championship race at Phoenix Raceway.

Brown, who is in his second full season in the series, has four consecutive top-20 finishes going into this weekend. He knows the challenge he faces.

He said a key for this weekend is to have no mistakes, be running at the end and try to take advantage of any mistakes other playoff drivers have.

Then, he’ll look to Talladega. He’ll have an upgraded Earnhardt Childress Racing engine for that race, the team spending the extra money for the engine upgrade.

“I go into that track with confidence,” he said. “I need to go out there and make it happen, go win and make an name and go ahead and punch my ticket.”

While Brown knows most look at him as the underdog of these playoffs, he hopes to drop that title someday.

“The goal will be to get rid of that underdog title and to build that program that is going to be looked on as a powerhouse of the NASCAR Xfinity Series,” he said. “I enjoy the ride (as underdog), but now I’m ready to advance past it.”

Points entering Xfinity playoffs 

2,050 – Chase Briscoe

2,050 – Austin Cindric

2,033 – Justin Allgaier

2,025 – Noah Gragson

2,020 – Brandon Jones

2,018 – Justin Haley

2,014 – Harrison Burton

2,010 – Ross Chastain

2,002 – Ryan Sieg

2,002 – Michael Annett

2,001 – Riley Herbst

2,000 – Brandon Brown

First Round races

Sept. 26 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Oct. 3 – Talladega Superspeedway (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Oct. 10 – Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC)