Anger, frustration flare after Martinsville Cup playoff race


MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Name-calling, flashing double birds and a chorus of boos filled the air Sunday night after 501 laps at Martinsville Speedway.

Call it the pressure of the playoffs, a long season coming to an end or just a genuine dislike for one another, but drivers were on edge during chaotic final laps that saw contact for the lead and contact after the checkered flag waved.

Alex Bowman won to Denny Hamlin’s disgust. They hit with eight laps to go, spinning Hamlin out of the lead. Hamlin still advanced to next week’s Championship 4, but that did little to quell his anger.

“He’s just a hack,” Hamlin said of Bowman to NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after the race. “Just an absolute hack. He gets his ass kicked by his teammates every week. He’s (expletive) terrible. He’s just terrible. He sees one opportunity, he takes it.”

Less than three hours after the race, Bowman was selling T-shirts with “HACK” on it.

Before the marketing pitch, Bowman explained what happened with Hamlin.

“Hate that we got into (Hamlin),” Bowman said. “Unintentional. I just got underneath him and spun him out. I’d be mad, too. I get it. But he’s been on the other side of that enough to understand.”

Bowman noted that Hamlin wrecked him last year at Texas.

“Texted me and apologized,” Bowman said. “Said he’d give me a ride on his jet. I don’t know. We’re even, I guess, after that. He crashed the heck out of me there. He got loose underneath me, exact same thing just on a bigger racetrack.

“Yeah, sarcasm there, obviously. Just my point is the shoe has been on the other foot. Like we’ve been on both sides of it.”

Hamlin showed his displeasure by driving his car to Bowman’s as Bowman prepared to do celebratory burnouts. Hamlin nosed his car against Bowman’s and flashed a pair of middle fingers.

Bowman remained in his car, unsure what would happen next.

NASCAR Cup Series Xfinity 500
Denny Hamlin showed his anger at Alex Bowman by blocking and nosing his car to Bowman’s after the race. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

“Have you ever been to Bowman Gray Stadium?” Bowman said, referring to the track known for tight racing and temper tantrums on the track.

“I’ve gone there and watched. That’s what it felt like. When they had that TV show with the mods running there, I watched the heck out of that. It was really entertaining then. Not so entertaining when you’re living it.

“Just didn’t want to be a part of that, make us both look dumb. So, I just tried to not be a part of it. I wasn’t going to try to do stuff like that. That’s not who I am.”

When Hamlin’s interview was played on the track’s P.A. system, a chorus of boos cascaded toward the Virginia driver.

Later, Hamlin was asked about his reaction to being booed by fans in his home state.

“It’s just Chase Elliott fans,” said Hamlin, who earned their ire four years when he spun Elliott out of the lead at Martinsville. “They don’t think straightly.”

Elliott was told what Hamlin said and asked his reaction.

“I’m going to lose so much sleep tonight,” Elliott said in jest. “I might not sleep at all. That’s how concerned I am (smiling).”

My fans don’t care either, by the way.”

Kyle Busch had sharper words for Brad Keselowski after the race. Busch was not happy with Keselowski’s final move as they raced for second.

Keselowski had been aggressive late in the race, needing to win. Instead, he finished third and didn’t advance to the Championship 4 in his final season with car owner Roger Penske.

Busch did not appreciate Keselowski’s driving on the final lap.

“He drills my ass coming out of (Turn) 4 for no reason,” Busch said. “Where was he going? What was he going to do? Spin me out?

“He was trying to do a Harvick is what he was trying to do (Kevin Harvick spun Busch on the last lap of last year’s Martinsville playoff race). For what? For second place? To do what? He wasn’t going to transfer through with that. Freaking (R-word). So stupid. I don’t understand these guys.

“I should beat the shit out of him right now is what I should do, but that doesn’t do me any good either.”

Why not?

“I’ve already had to pay enough fines in my lifetime,” Busch said. “I’m sure I’ll get another one.”

Busch later tweeted an apology for using the R-word.

Asked about the contact with Busch after the race, Keselowski said: “I don’t know what he was thinking. He was mad at something. He was mad at himself? He was mad at me? I don’t sweat that.”

He was among the few who felt that way.

Elliott was spun after contact from Keselowski, but Elliott took the blame for that.

“I was racing him hard on the outside,” Elliott said. “I wasn’t super surprised that he made a mistake. As hard as he hit me, I knew he just didn’t clean me out on purpose. I figured he wheel hopped or something. I haven’t seen it. Really, moving on was all that mattered.

“I had made some bad choices on adjustments, kind of got us behind. The real reason that happened was because I made a bad decision on what to do to our car. We started playing defense. When you start playing defense, you typically start crashing a lot of times, especially when guys need to win.”

Martin Truex Jr. knows the feeling. He finished fourth and could joke afterward about a late incident that sent him into the wall and had him questioning what he was to do after someone hit him.

He was calmer later after joining Hamlin, Kyle Larson and Elliott in next weekend’s title race at Phoenix.

“Got slammed into the wall,” he said. “I don’t know. I have no idea how we finished fourth. I’m going to buy a lottery ticket on the way home.”

Even a winning lottery ticket might not make some people happy after Sunday’s race.

Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott involved in big crash at Charlotte


CONCORD, N.C. — Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott were involved in a big crash midway through Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and each blamed the other.

Elliott’s car slapped the outside wall near the start-finish line, and his car made contact with Hamlin’s Toyota, sending Hamlin slamming into the wall. The front end of Hamlin’s car was smashed. Elliott’s Chevrolet also was damaged.

Both drivers parked for the evening, and neither was happy.

Hamlin said Elliott had a “tantrum” and said he should be suspended from next week’s race.

“I got right-rear hooked in the middle of the straightway,” Hamlin said. “Yes, it was a tantrum. He shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

Elliott had a different view.

“The 11 (Hamlin) put me in the fence, and once you take the right sides off these things it’s kind of over,” he said. “Once you hit the wall in these things, you can’t drive them any more.”

Elliott denied intentionally hitting Hamlin, saying the crash was “unfortunate circumstances.”

Brad Keselowski hit the rear of Elliott’s car after the initial contact between Hamlin and Elliott.

After the crash, Hamlin tweeted data in support of his contention that Elliott drove into him.




More rain postpones conclusion of Charlotte Xfinity race


CONCORD, N.C. — Despite an improving forecast, rain continued to plague NASCAR and its drivers Monday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The twice-rescheduled Xfinity Series race was stopped twice because of weather Monday after finally getting the green flag, and the conclusion of the 300-mile race was postponed until after the completion of Monday’s rescheduled 600-mile Cup Series race.

Forty-eight of the race’s scheduled 200 laps were completed before weather and the impending scheduled start of the Cup race intervened.

When (or if) the race resumes Monday night, it will be broadcast by FS2, the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

After 48 laps, Ty Gibbs, John Hunter Nemechek and Justin Allgaier are in the top three positions.

Gibbs won the first stage.

Monday Charlotte Cup race: Start time, TV info, weather


After two days of soaking rains, the longest race on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is set for a 3 p.m. ET start Monday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The 600-mile marathon was scheduled for a 6:21 p.m. start Sunday, but persistent rain forced a postponement to Memorial Day.

A look at the Monday Cup schedule:

Details for Monday’s Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 3:12 p.m. by USO official Barry Morris and retired drivers Jeff Burton, Dale Jarrett and Bobby Labonte. … The green flag is scheduled to be waved at 3:23 p.m.

PRERACE: Driver introductions are scheduled at 2:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given by retired Air Force Master Sergeant Monty Self at 3 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Elizabeth Marino at 3:04 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 400 laps (600 miles) on the 1.5-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 100. Stage 2 ends at Lap 200. Stage 3 ends at Lap 300.

STARTING LINEUP: Charlotte Cup starting lineup

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the race at 3 p.m. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 3 p.m. and can be heard on … SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.


FORECAST: Weather Underground — The forecast calls for overcast skies with a high of 71. There is a 15% chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Denny Hamlin won last year’s 600 as the race was extended to two overtimes, making it the longest race in distance in Cup history.

Monday Charlotte Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather


Charlotte Motor Speedway’s rescheduled NASCAR Xfinity Series race is set for an 11 a.m. start Monday.

The race originally was scheduled Saturday, but was postponed by weather to noon Monday. After Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 Cup Series race also was postponed to Monday, the Xfinity Series race was moved to an 11 a.m. start.

A look at the Monday Xfinity schedule:

Details for Monday’s Xfinity race at Charlotte Motor Speedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 11:01 a.m. by representatives of race sponsor Alsco Uniforms … The green flag is scheduled to be waved at 11:12 a.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opened at 8 a.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 200 laps (300 miles) on the 1.5-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 45. Stage 2 ends at Lap 90.

STARTING LINEUP: Charlotte Xfinity starting lineup (Justin Haley will replace Kyle Busch in the No. 10 Kaulig Racing car).

TV/RADIO: FS1 will broadcast the race at 11 a.m. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 11 a.m. and can be heard on … SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.


FORECAST: Weather Underground — The forecast calls for overcast skies with a high of 71. There is a 15% chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Josh Berry won last May’s Xfinity race. Ty Gibbs was second and Sam Mayer third.