NASCAR: Hamlin admits to banging on Chastain on purpose

NASCAR officials are reviewing a late-race incident at Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series event at Phoenix Raceway involving Denny Hamlin and Ross Chastain, series officials said Tuesday.

Elton Sawyer, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition, told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that he was aware of comments Hamlin made about his run-in with Chastain on his podcast, “Actions Detrimental.”

Denny Hamlin said Monday that he made intentional late-race contact with rival Ross Chastain during Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series event, saying that he felt the timing was right for a measure of revenge at Phoenix Raceway.

“It wasn’t a mistake,” Hamlin said. “I let the wheel go, and I said, ‘He’s coming with me.’ “

Hamlin’s No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was lined up in sixth place for a final restart as Sunday’s United Rentals Work United 500 went into overtime, but the car pushed high heading into Turn 1 on the next-to-last lap. Struggling to get his car to turn and faced with a mediocre finish, Hamlin said he opted to take Chastain’s No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet — fifth at the restart point — up into the retaining wall with him.

“I got to the end of the race. I saw that he was on the outside of me. I went into Turn 1 with the mindset that I’m going to try to get the best finish that I can get,” Hamlin said on his Actions Detrimental podcast hosted by Dirty Mo Media, explaining that he didn’t want to collect any of his other competitors. ” I’m on two tires and I go into Turn 1, and while I even went in shallow on speed, my car plowed. What it means is that I turned the wheel and the front tires were going straight and they were calling the 1 car (of Chastain) on the outside.

“At that point, I knew that I was screwed. I was about to go backward. I had all the four-tire cars on my ass. They were going to pass me more than likely in the next corner. I know I had two fresh-tire cars underneath of me anyways. I was four-wide. I’m like ‘I’m going straight to the back.’ My crew chief told me there were 18 cars on the lead lap, and at that point, I’m probably running sixth or seventh and I’m about to get passed by everybody behind me whose on fresh tires. I’m about to finish in the mid-teens and I said ‘you’re coming with me buddy.’ “