NASCAR: Denny Hamlin changes his mind after Ross Chastain incident

Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Denny Hamlin has now decided to appeal the penalty NASCAR issued to him after he admitted to intentionally ruining Ross Chastain’s race at Phoenix Raceway.

Running in the top 10 after an overtime restart in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin knew he was probably going to lose several spots to drivers on new tires.

With this in mind and his car plowing, he decided to drive into the side of Trackhouse Racing Team’s Ross Chastain, sending Chastain’s No. 1 Chevrolet into the wall and ultimately costing him a top 10 result — and the lead of the point standings. Hamlin finished in 23rd place, with Chastain just behind him in 24th.

Hamlin has a history of Chastain and has said many times that some of the younger drivers need to “learn a lesson”, and he later admitted on his Actions Detrimental podcast that he intentionally drove Chastain into the wall, figuring that it was an opportune time for retaliation since no “innocent bystanders” would be collected.

NASCAR didn’t penalize the move itself, but once Denny Hamlin made those comments, they issued a fine and a points deduction.

The driver of the No. 11 Toyota was fined $50,000 and docked 25 points in the standings. Because of the 100-point penalties issued to three Hendrick Motorsports drivers, Hamlin had been poised to move up from seventh to fourth place in the standings. Instead, he dropped to 12th.

But now he has decided to appeal the penalty.

This decision comes not even two days after Hamlin said that he would not be appealing the decision to NASCAR but appealing “to the people” on his podcast this coming Monday, following Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

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Given NASCAR’s interesting history of penalizing drivers for actions only after they admit intent, whether that intent was obvious or not, it was not surprising to see Hamlin get penalized here. However, where does the line get drawn on contact/ensuing comments moving forward?