By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
Racing on short tracks, Martinsville in particular, tends to amp up the aggressiveness in the closing laps and in Sunday’s First Data 500, Chase Elliott found himself on the receiving end of the aggressive driving by Denny Hamlin, ending up in the wall and putting a damper on the end of a stellar day for the No. 24 team.
Elliott, who led 123 laps on the day, looked to be in the catbird seat for his first career win and a ticket to Homestead as he led with four laps to go, but Hamlin put the bumper to him entering Turn 3, sending his car spinning driver’s side into the outside wall. He would get the car re-fired and finished the race in 27th, but the contact still had him angry after the checkered flag flew, and he was quick to let Hamlin know.
On the cool down lap, Elliott pulled up alongside Hamlin and sideswiped him into the wall, but the fireworks weren’t done between the two yet. The two drivers then pulled onto pit road and had a heated conversation for a few minutes before being separated.
Elliott could be seen telling Hamlin “You wrecked me!” a few different times and then not accepting his excuses by replying “C’mon man!” before they walked away from each other.
“My Momma always said if you don’t have anything nice not to say anything at all. So, it’s not even worth my time. We’ll just go on to Texas,” said Elliott.
“It’s just not necessary. We had a great restart and there was nobody pushing him into Turn 3. So, I wanted to see the replay. That’s what I thought happened and that’s what happened. And it’s definitely 100 percent unnecessary and uncalled for.
“We had a great car today and we had an opportunity. We had a good restart there at the end and felt like I was doing what I needed to do. And I can’t control his decisions and whatever the hell that was.”
With his 27th place finish, Elliott now has his work cut out for him over the next two weeks to be able to make it to the Championship 4 at Homestead as he sits 26 points out of the top-four in points.
Hamlin, who would go on to finish seventh despite getting spun on the last lap, also spoke about the late race contact with Elliott.
“I got in the back of him and he spun out,” said Hamlin as boos from the crowd rained down on him. “Trying to get a race win, but everybody wrecked everybody there at the end. It was complete bullshit chaos, I got in the back of him and he spun out. Somebody got in the back of me and I wrecked too. It was a mess at the end. Everybody was doing the exact same thing. I hate it for his team. I understand they’ve had a win for a long time coming, but this is a ticket to Homestead.”
“I’m not sitting here saying I wrecked him on purpose. I tried to move him out of the way and he spun out. He didn’t make the corner because I had his back end jacked up, that’s for sure. I got in there too hot and got into the back of him.”