Denny Hamlin frustrated with Ross Chastain after another incident

1 Comment

HAMPTON, Ga. — Denny Hamlin said he’s “reached (his) peak” with Ross Chastain after contact from Chastain wrecked Hamlin for the second time in a little over a month. 

But Chastain, who finished second Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, said not to lump this contact with their incident June 5 at World Wide Technology Raceway.

Either way, Hamlin has had enough of Chastain.

Asked if a line had been crossed with Chastain, Hamlin said Sunday: “It’s all in whatever level I’m willing to take. It’s just another unfortunate circumstance for him.”

Asked if there was any way for Chastain to win a championship this season with the drivers he’s upset, Hamlin said: “I think it’s just that everyone has their different tolerance levels certainly, but you guys know I’ve reached my peak.”

Hamlin was outside of Chastain and had nearly completed a pass for fourth place 14 laps from the finish when Chastain came up and clipped Hamlin’s car in the left rear. The contact sent Hamlin sliding down the front stretch and in front of the field. 

“This one is so different because I had so much damage,” said Chastain, whose car was damaged in a nine-car crash on Lap 91. “You all know that I would take full responsibility if I just ran into him, but I had so much damage. I was so much tighter. We had done a lot to free the car up.

“It was just way too tight, and I just couldn’t carry the throttle that I could earlier. I still lifted some, but it wasn’t enough. I don’t put this one anywhere near the other incidents.”

Chastain said he planned to explain that to Hamlin, who finished 25th.

“We’ve got a relationship now where I can talk to him,” Chastain said. “I’ve got his phone number now. So I definitely will because I was working toward a better relationship. I just overcompensated there.”

After a radio transmission was played on the broadcast of Chastain saying “my fault” for the contact with Hamlin, NBC Sports analyst Jeff Burton said: “OK, ‘my fault’ – but it keeps happening. I love Ross Chastain. He’s a really good race car driver, but he’s got to find a way, (Dale Earnhardt) Junior, to run these races without constantly making contact.”

Said Earnhardt: “I want him to change, but I don’t want him to change.”

Said Burton: “He won’t win a championship because they won’t let him win a championship if he doesn’t clean it up.”

Hamlin vowed payback after contact last month at World Wide Technology Raceway. 

Chastain ran into the back of Hamlin early in that race and sent Hamlin into the wall. Hamlin later shadowed Chastain’s car and at one point was in front of Chastain and slowed, keeping Chastain behind him. NASCAR told Hamlin’s team to stop it, but Hamlin told reporters that day he wasn’t through with Chastain.

“You’re going to have to weigh the odds of when is the right time to make sure they get the message,” Hamlin said last month. 

Hamlin also said that day: “Ultimately, the sport is self-policing. Usually, when you least suspect it and it means the most, it comes back around.”