Denny Hamlin didn’t admit he sent Ross Chastain into the wall at Pocono Raceway, but Hamlin certainly wasn’t upset about the turn of events either.
“I mean, what did you want me to do? What did you expect me to do? We got position on him, and he just ran out of race track,” he said in his post-race interview.
On a restart with 18 laps to go in which Chastain, the race leader, took the outside and Hamlin chose the inside, the two were in close quarters coming off Turn 1. Hamlin didn’t budge, and Chastain was forced into the outside wall before coming back across traffic, collecting Kevin Harvick, and then hitting the inside wall.
Chastain’s car was towed to the garage and he failed to finish the race. Hamlin went on to win.
“We drove in deep and he drove in deep, and I’m not even sure if we made contact; maybe we did,” Hamlin said. “He ended up running out of racetrack. He knew I was going to race him hard. What else do you want me to do after the wrecks that I’ve had? That’s what we did today.”
Chastain admitted he was owed one and Hamlin cashed in. It was the result of Chastain knocking Hamlin out of the way in early June at World Wide Technology Raceway, after which Hamlin not only made life hard on Chastain the rest of that race but vowed it would come back around.
“You just race people the way you get raced in the end,” Hamlin said. “It was egged on by his car owner [Justin Marks] on Twitter and said [he] can’t wait, so it just fired me up over those incidents. We’re just going to continue to race hard, and I’m going to race him the same way.”
During the WWTR race, Marks tweeted a popcorn-eating GIF and later one that had the caption “are you not entertained” while saying he loved his team and the sport of NASCAR. Marks also engaged with a Hamlin tweet that Hamlin said wasn’t helping matters.
During his weekly SiriusXM NASCAR Radio appearance the next day, Marks said he was prepared for whatever came next between Chastain and Hamlin. He also said there is a lot of talk in NASCAR about what a driver is going to do and not a lot of action.
As for whether the score is settled between them, Hamlin said, “We’re just going to keep racing hard until we get the respect back from these guys. It’s not just that…we’ve been wrecked four times — twice while leading in the last 10 months — and I’m at the end of it.”