A senior NASCAR official said no penalties were called against Denny Hamlin or Chase Elliott for their actions against Ross Chastain last weekend because “we didn’t see a blatant takeout or anything like that.”
Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, explained the sanctioning body’s point of view during an appearance Tuesday on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio with co-hosts Pete Pistone and Nate Ryan.
Miller said that series officials may meet with the drivers this weekend at Sonoma Raceway.
“We haven’t spoken to any of the parties,” Miller said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “It’s usually better to kind of let things die down and speak to them before we hit the track again, rather than do it at the racetrack. We’ll do that if it’s absolutely necessary.
“In this situation, where there was no blatant takeout and retaliation, best to let them calm down a bit and then have a word with them later.”
Chastain triggered issues with Hamlin and Elliott in two separate incidents last weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway. Both Hamlin and Elliott retaliated.
“We don’t like to see things like that, but there’s a certain amount of we kind of have to let them handle it on their own somewhat,” Miller said. “What we saw, while we were annoyed by it, there was no real contact. They tried to make life miserable for Ross. We all witnessed that, but at least we didn’t see a blatant takeout or anything like that.
“It was obvious from Ross’ postrace comments he made some mistakes out there and wants to make it right. It’s kind of up to those guys to sort it out and how it moves forward from there. We’ll obviously keep a close eye on them as we do in all these situations.”
Trouble started when Chastain hit the back of Hamlin’s car, sending it into the wall and bringing out there caution on Lap 66 of 245-lap race.
About 15 laps after the incident, Chastain came upon Hamlin, who drove Chastain down to the apron on the backstretch before Chastain passed. Later, Hamlin slowed dramatically to impede Chastain.
Chastain, though, wasn’t done upsetting drivers.
He squeezed between Austin Dillon and Elliott on a restart. Chastain hit Elliott in the left rear, turning Elliott and bringing out the caution at Lap 103.
On the ensuing restart, Elliott bumped Chastain, sending him toward the wall. As Chastain moved back down the track, Hamlin came by and forced Chastain back up the track.
Chastain took the blame for the incidents after the racing, telling NBC Sports: “I just drove over my head so many times. It’s one thing to do it once, but I just kept driving into guys.”
Hamlin told reporters after the race: “This sport is self-policing and usually when you least suspect it — and it means the most — it comes back around.”
— Dustin Long (@dustinlong) June 5, 2022
Denny Hamlin said when he pays back Ross Chastain, it will be meaningful and when he least expects it, that you have to “fence these guys hard” to get their attention.
More of what Hamlin said about Chastain after Gateway: pic.twitter.com/B0SCkCct6r
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) June 5, 2022
While Scott Miller admitted that #NASCAR "[doesn't] like to see" the Hamlin/Chastain beef wind up with on-track shenanigans, he said they'll let the drivers settle things.
💭 "We kind of have to let them handle it on their own […] at least we didn't see a blatant takeout." pic.twitter.com/Gc9adV91AY
— SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) (@SiriusXMNASCAR) June 7, 2022