The Inciting Incident
The big story of the Coca-Cola 600 was Chase Elliott wrecking Denny Hamlin on the frontstretch, a move that Clint Bowyer immediately claimed was intentional. Hamlin asserted that Chase Elliott should be suspended following the incident. Elliott denied intentionally wrecking Hamlin.
Hamlin went onto his weekly podcast “Actions Detrimental” on Tuesday, and he lit into Chase Elliott. Not only did Hamlin go after Elliott, he went after Elliott’s fans, and called on NASCAR to act. Hamlin also discussed the Coca-Cola 600 as a whole during the podcast, posing the question whether or not the Charlotte ROVAL still has a place on the NASCAR.
Hamlin Goes After Elliott
It is important to note that Elliott and Hamlin have a history. Most notably during the 2017 Playoffs when Hamlin dumped Elliott at Martinsville, costing Elliott his first career win and a spot in the Championship 4. Elliott retaliated two weeks later at Phoenix by dooring Hamlin into the wall, ending Hamlin’s Championship 4 aspirations.
This is just the newest chapter in the saga between the two, but Hamlin is hot about this. Hamlin first offered his side of the story, and he admitted that he did squeeze Elliott off of turn four. However, when discussing the crash, Hamlin echoed his words in his FOX Sports interview after the incident saying on the podcast Elliot threw a, “Hissy fit” and a “Temper tantrum”.
Hamlin then ripped into Elliott for turning Hamlin in the tri-oval, which Hamlin called, “The worst part of the race track that I could possibly hit.” Hamlin also called out Elliott for incidents that have happened in the past that were, in Hamlin’s judgement, bad moves on Elliott’s part.
“I’ve seen this with him in the past. When Larson kind of drove him up in the fence at California, [Elliott] intentionally caused a caution there trying to screw Larson over, his teammate. And then when Harvick and [Elliott] got into it [at Bristol in 2021]. [Elliott] came in, ‘where’s Harvick? I’m gonna help my teammate out.’ Blocked Harvick so Kyle Larson could win. This is B*******. I don’t mind Chase Elliott fans, some of them are sane, most of them are not. When you’ve got the Dawsonville Pool Room saying, ‘Oh Boy, we need a substitute driver next week’, you probably know you F***** up.”
Hamlin also famously pointed out the SMT data, which seems to make the theory of Elliott wrecking Hamlin intentionally more believable. The SMT data clearly shows Elliot turning left into Hamlin’s right-rear.
At the end of the day, no one really knows what was going through Chase Elliott’s mind in that moment, but Hamlin offers a comparison to it. That being the incident where Bubba Wallace spun Kyle Larson out intentionally at Las Vegas last fall. Wallace was suspended for one race as a result.
When asked if Elliott’s penalty should be more than Wallace’s penalty, Hamlin never truly gave a straight answer, but did emphasize the impact this precedent has on NASCAR’s other series. He did say that NASCAR needs to do something, vowing to do an “emergency episode” if nothing happens.
Could NASCAR maybe rescind Elliott’s playoff waiver making him ineligible for the Playoffs? Could they suspend Elliott for multiple races instead of just the one race like Wallace was suspended last year? NASCAR seemingly has to do something about this.
Turning someone head on into a wall at 170 mph is dangerous, and it puts someone’s life and health at risk. If the action is intentional, then there has to be repercussions.
The Oval OR the ROVAL?
Before ripping into Elliott, Hamlin also brought up the conversation about whether or not NASCAR should return to the ROVAL for the fall race at Charlotte every year. Hamlin pointed out the great races that the last two Coca-Cola 600s have been. From there, Hamlin theorized that a 400 mile race at the Charlotte oval should be the Playoff race instead of the ROVAL.
This would probably not go over well with some fans. Sure, the racing at the oval has been great, but the ROVAL is currently the only road course in the Playoffs. There has to be a road course in the Playoffs somewhere due to them now taking up 1/6th of the schedule.
That being said this is a worthwhile discussion. Intermediate tracks have produced the best racing with this next-gen car. Putting more of the best racing in the Playoffs should mean a better product.