Hamlin justified in move on Elliott at Martinsville

Harold Hinson/ Harold Hinson Photography

By Caleb Whisler, Staff Writer

The move Denny Hamlin made on Chase Elliott in the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway in the closing laps was totally acceptable.

Before you start to complain, let’s take a trip down memory lane. Memory will lead us to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2013. Elliott and Ty Dillon were racing each other hard in the final laps for the win. Going into the final corner, Dillon went a little high, Elliott went for the gap, but ultimately punted Dillon to go on to win the race.

Many fans cheered and applauded the move by Elliott in 2013, but when Hamlin basically does the same move at Martinsville, fans call for the blood of Hamlin. These same fans praised the moves the late Dale Earnhardt did to his competitors.

Hamlin now has a target on his back as Public Enemy No. 1 after he unintentionally wrecked NASCAR’s “golden boy”. Unfortunately, due to the court of public opinion, Hamlin had to go on social media and apologize. Hamlin should not have apologized for the move he made on the track.

In 2015, Brian France called an incident at Kansas Speedway between Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth as “Quintessential NASCAR”. Two weeks later at Martinsville, Kenseth intentionally wrecked Logano, costing him a shot at the championship. NASCAR penalized Kenseth for two races following the incident due to the intentionality.

When France made the comments about quintessential NASCAR, here is what he meant:

“The reason that they don’t ask is that they know,” France said. “They know that circumstances late in the race, blocking — although I’m not a fan of blocking, that is part of racing — contact, the short end of some of those exchanges that happen are all part of it and do not look to NASCAR to deal with that. They are part of racing.

“The line is if you intentionally … banzai-ing into some situation with the sole purpose of taking somebody out, we’ll deal with that. We dealt with that at Martinsville, as a matter of fact.”

Hamlin’s move on Elliott was just a racing move. With this round providing a chance to automatically lock yourself into championship contention at Homestead, you will do anything and everything possible to make sure that you are competing for a championship, which is what Hamlin did.

For Elliott, it is time to man up and get over it that Hamlin raced you “dirty”.

Tough luck. Winning a championship is not supposed to be easy at all. You have to learn to face the adversity that comes your way instead of pouting when things do not go your way. You race at the top-level of NASCAR. It is supposed to be hard. When life gives you lemons, you have to do your best to make lemonade.

As the great Harry Hogge told Cole Trickle in Days of Thunder, “Rubbin’ is racin’.” If you cannot take a little rough and tumble from your competitors every once and awhile , then you need to find a different occupation.

In the words of Chris Carrier, crew chief on the No. 75 NASCAR Camping World  Truck Series entry for Henderson Motorsports, ” For those guys that want to be Sunday drivers., you better grow up. If you’re gonna cut the grass, you better not mind the grass in your shoes.”

For NASCAR, this is a perfect byproduct of the elimination format they created. I applaud NASCAR for their steps in not going to penalize the drivers for their inappropriate actions.

“We did not make a call there. That race stands. We’re not in the business of calling an in-race penalty post race. That was good hard racing, for the most part, all day at Martinsville,” Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s executive vice president and chief racing development officer, told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive”. 

In a season that has been plagued by off-track sideshows, this was a weekend NASCAR so desperately needed going into its final three races: a weekend where on-track activity was being discussed.


The opinions expressed here are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Kickin’ The Tires. 

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