Elliott, Hamlin clash following First Data 500 at Martinsville

Matthew T. Thacker/NKPPhoto

By Caleb Whisler, Staff Writer

As the lights turned on at Martinsville Speedway for the first time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the tempers flared at the end of the First Data 500 between Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin.

As the field was coming to take the white flag in NASCAR Overtime, Hamlin was on his bumper going into the third turn. Hamlin sent Elliott up the race track after getting his back tires off the racing surface.

As the field was taking their cool down lap after the checkered flag flew. Hamlin and Elliott exchanged more contact as they were getting ready to go through the mandatory lug nut check on pit road.

While NASCAR officials were checking the lug nuts, Hamlin went to discuss his displeasure with Elliott. No fists were exchanged during their encounter.

However, the exchange of words between each driver vocalized their displeasure.

“He said I wrecked him. Obviously, Ray Charles saw that. Obviously it wasn’t intentional. I wanted to move him out of the way. There was just not enough grip on the racetrack for him to save it. It’s no different. He washed the 2 up as well. I mean, we can play favorites if we want. Unfortunately, this is a ticket to Homestead mistake,” said Hamlin.

Elliott saw things differently with Hamlin.

“I got punted from behind and wrecked in Turn 3 leading the race.  I don’t know what his problem was.  It was unnecessary I hadn’t raced him dirty all-day long.  There was no reason for that and he comes over and talks to me a second ago and tells me he had somebody pushing him into Turn 3.  I thought that was funny because there was nobody within two car lengths of him into Turn 3 behind myself.  I don’t know what the deal was, but it is so disappointing.

While the words were hot, both drivers referenced the move Elliott did on Brad Keselowski on the prior restart.

“Brad and I raced as clean as we could race each other. We had a hard-fought battle for the lead. That was not a battle at all,” said Elliott.

Hamlin saw the move he did to Elliott as the same move Elliott did to Keselowski.

“He washed the 2 up as well. I mean, we can play favorites if we want. Unfortunately, this is a ticket to Homestead mistake.”

After the race, Hamlin backtracked his comments from after the race on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/dennyhamlin/status/924792019309998080

Although their tempers flared after the race, both drivers know that they will have to perform at Texas and Phoenix if they want to have the chance to win a championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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