NASCAR: Decision looming after ‘missed’ Texas incident

Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

NASCAR might issue a late penalty on William Byron since they “missed” the incident between him and Denny Hamlin at Texas Motor Speedway.

Just after Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. saw himself added to the long list of NASCAR Cup Series drivers to suffer a flat tire while leading Sunday’s AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron ran into the back of Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin on the frontstretch, sending him spinning through the infield.

Byron later admitted that the move itself was intentional, though noted that he didn’t actually attempt to spin the #11 Toyota.

The move came a few laps after Hamlin and Byron raced closely coming out of turn two of the four-turn, 1.5-mile (2.414-kilometer) Fort Worth, Texas oval, when Byron felt that Hamlin had run him out of room.

After the spin, Hamlin was not allowed to retain his position, and no action was taken against Byron. Under the caution, Hamlin even ran back up to the rear of Byron’s #24 Chevrolet and made slight contact to show his displeasure.

Hamlin and his team voiced even more displeasure over the radio, but even amid those communications, NASCAR reportedly “missed” the accident, which was supposedly the reason why they took no action. Instead, their focus was on the Truex incident.

NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller spoke about the matter after the 334-lap race concluded.

Hamlin didn’t exactly buy that statement.

Had they seen it, the likely course of action would have been to either allow Hamlin to retain his position or send Byron to the back of the field.

But despite the fact that it was really on NASCAR for completely missing the incident, they might still penalize Byron.

And it might hurt even worse, as it could come in the form of a points deduction.

Byron ended up finishing the race in seventh place and sits in third in the standings, 17 points above the round of 8 cut line, with two of the three round of 12 races remaining. Hamlin finished in 10th and sits in sixth, just eight points ahead of the cutoff.

So a points penalty of any nature could prove massive, especially since the final two races of the round of 12 are considered “wild card” races at Talladega Superspeedway and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

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But any further action would be a stark contrast to a situation earlier in the year where NASCAR missed a blatant violation and did not penalize the driver who committed said violation. Should a points penalty be issued at this stage, NASCAR may only be digging themselves a deeper hole.