Hamlin will appeal penalty over Chastain incident

Motorsport Images

Hamlin will appeal penalty over Chastain incident


Hamlin will appeal penalty over Chastain incident


Denny Hamlin has changed his mind and will appeal the penalty NASCAR levied against him earlier this week for fencing Ross Chastain on the last lap at Phoenix Raceway.

But Hamlin isn’t talking about the decision or what happened last weekend.

“I think you should get your Shingrix shingle vaccination, is what I think,” Hamlin said Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway when asked why he decided to appeal.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver used the same response to two other questions about the appeal during his media availability. When asked if that would be his response all day to avoid getting in trouble again, Hamlin said, “Can’t wait for Atlanta.”

Hamlin was fined $50,000 and docked 25 points Wednesday afternoon. NASCAR officials reviewed Hamlin’s comments on his podcast, “Actions Detrimental,” where he admitted he intentionally fenced Chastain.

“I’ve said for a while you’ve got to do something to get these guys’ attention,” Hamlin said on the podcast. “Ross doesn’t like it when I speak his name in the media and when I have this microphone. But I told him, ‘Well, I have a microphone, and I’m going to call it like I see it, and until you get a microphone, you can then say whatever you want about me.’

“But the fact is, while I’m sitting here talking, I’m going to call things the way I see it, and sometimes I’m going to have to call myself out, which I’m the (expletive) who lost just as many spots as he did. But at the time, I said, well, I’m going to finish (expletive) anyway, and I’m just going to make sure he finishes (expletive) right here with me.”

Initially, NASCAR viewed it as a racing incident until being made aware of Hamlin’s comments.

“The way we look at these situations, they are all individual and unique to themselves,” NASCAR senior vice president of competition Elton Sawyer said. “When you look at this one this past weekend, we would have viewed that as a racing incident, but then 24 hours later have a competitor that has gone on a podcast — which I will say, we’re delighted Denny has a podcast. We think that’s great; he interacts with the fans.

“But when you start admitting you have intentionally done something that would comprise the result of the end of the race, then that rises to the level that we’re going to get involved. There’s no other way to look at that. We’re going to get involved in those situations. We’ve been consistent in the past with that, and we will be consistent going forward.”

Hamlin had “nothing to say” about his reaction to the penalty. He also politely declined to share whether he understood where NASCAR officials draw the line between what’s hard racing and what’s intentional.

In the tweet posted Friday evening announcing he is appealing the penalty, Hamlin said what happened at Phoenix was not race manipulation or actions detrimental to the sport. Both of those were the rule NASCAR cited in its penalty to Hamlin.

“I don’t have a definition,” Hamlin said when asked for his definition of race manipulation. “I think it’s in the rule book.”

Hamlin and Chastain talked on pit road at Phoenix after the incident. According to Hamlin, they’ve called a truce.

“Just taking each others’ word for it,” Hamlin said.

Chastain did not listen to Hamlin’s podcast and didn’t have a reaction to the penalty. However, Chastain and Hamlin agreed they would judge each other on their actions going forward.

“Initially, when I’m hitting the wall and realizing we finished last of the lead lap cars, yeah, I’m mad,” Chastain said. “I’m human and we worked really hard to finish good, and we were going to. Yeah, definitely mad.

“On the cool-down lap, still mad, I just had a lot of self-talk and weighing out all of my options. I felt like getting out of the car and talking to him was going to be the best way I could go about it.”