Talladega Superspeedway winner Denny Hamlin not only thought there wasn’t a chance he’d be penalized for going below the yellow line, but called it a “non-story.”
Hamlin made it three-wide off the final corners on the last lap by going below Matt DiBenedetto and William Byron. NASCAR ruled DiBenedetto forced Byron below the yellow line, which resulted in a penalty for DiBenedetto. They felt others, like Hamlin, were reacting to the move.
“Forced. (NASCAR) called it all day,” said Hamlin. “It’s a non-story.”
Officials penalized Joey Logano twice during the race for forcing drivers below the yellow line. They also penalized Chris Buescher for forcing Chase Elliott below the yellow line through the tri-oval on the final lap.
“Call it the same on lap 1 as the last lap,” said Hamlin.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver was able to get to the lead by going as low as he did. In a drag race to the finish line, Hamlin beat DiBenedetto and Erik Jones, but DiBenedetto’s penalty sent him to 22nd in the finishing order. Jones was bumped to second in the finish and Ty Dillon third.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) October 4, 2020
Hamlin said his move was to avoid a wreck when DiBenedetto and Byron came together. He figured NASCAR would see the rationale in Hamlin going to the inside of his competitors and as they came down, he went further left.
“I’ve been a victim of getting forced down there all the time, and finally, they put their foot down and said, this is the rule, we’re going to enforce it,” said Hamlin. “As the leader or wherever you are, you can’t use the yellow line as a defense. You have to play within the boundaries that they set. In the NFL, they had force out rules and things like that, they got rid of it. It’s the same kind of thing.
“They set the precedence early, so you know that you weren’t going to get away with it. It’s part of it. I wouldn’t say I would have done anything differently if I was Matt (DiBenedetto). I’m not a huge blocking guy. I don’t know. I don’t think you always have to block to win.”