Denny Hamlin decision drastically changes NASCAR standings

Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) /

Denny Hamlin’s decision to intentionally ruin Ross Chastain’s race has drastically shifted the NASCAR Cup Series point standings.

The No. 11 Toyota of Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin got into the No. 1 Chevrolet of Trackhouse Racing Team’s Ross Chastain following an overtime restart in Sunday afternoon’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway, forcing Chastain into the wall.

Hamlin and Chastain had been running in the top 10 at the time, but they finished in 23rd and 24th place, respectively. The two drivers have a history with one another, specifically from last season, and Hamlin has since admitted that he put Chastain into the wall on purpose.

Hamlin, who has long said that some of the younger drivers need to “learn a lesson”, stated that he knew he was going to lose a bunch of positions to cars on fresher tires, so he decided to take Chastain with him. He felt that it was an opportune time to get back at Chastain without collecting any “innocent bystanders”.

As a result of Denny Hamlin’s move, Ross Chastain fell out of the lead of the NASCAR Cup Series point standings.

For the first time in his career, Chastain took the lead of the point standings after his third place finish in the season’s second race at Auto Club Speedway. He had opened the season with a ninth place effort in the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

Despite finishing in 12th place in the following race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, he maintained his lead, but with a 24th place finish at Phoenix Raceway, he has since dropped to third. Still, he sits just six points out of the lead. Without the contact from Hamlin, he would still be up top.

Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman now leads the standings for the first time in his career with 154 points. Chastain has 148 points, putting him three behind Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick with 151. Hamlin sits in seventh, 29 points behind Bowman.

You can find the full standings here.

Next. All-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list. dark

The 2023 season’s fifth race is scheduled to take place at Atlanta Motor Speedway this Sunday, March 19. Tune in to Fox at 3:00 p.m. ET for the live broadcast of the Ambetter Health 400. If you haven’t started a free trial of FuboTV, do so now!