After Clint Bowyer claimed that the New Hampshire cars of Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin were also illegal because they had to go through the height sticks twice after the race, Bowyer's competitors responded with far different reactions.
Hamlin shredded Bowyer's team along with Richard Childress Racing's defense theory, saying he was certain Bowyer's team had crossed the line. Johnson basically shrugged his shoulders and said he didn't care.
"They should be happy they're even in the Chase at this point," Hamlin said. "They were warned, and they were warned before Richmond. Everyone in the garage knows that. They're the ones who wanted to press the issue and get all they could to make sure they got into the Chase. They got in it, and then they got busted when they kept going with it."
Hamlin rejected RCR's "the tow truck did it" theory, saying that a tow truck damaged his No. 11 car much worse at Atlanta but it still didn't affect the car's legality.
"I think they're just trying to salvage their season (with the excuse), basically," Hamlin said, adding it was a "crock" to think that wouldn't provide Bowyer a performance advantage. "I understand that whole appeal process they're going to go through. There has to be a point where it's black and white, it's no longer gray. If they let them get away with this 60-thousandths of an inch, then where do you stop?
"There has to be a point where you say, 'This is the tolerance, if you go past it, you're in trouble.' If they let him go, they're going to open up the whole field to let them do what they want."
While it is possible that a car built very close to going over the line could sustain damage during a race and therefore become illegal, Hamlin said that's the risk teams take.
"Some teams choose to get closer to that line than others. There are things that happen out on the racetrack, there are variables that happen during the race that could make you be wrong. But that's your risk.
"If you're going to go out on the racetrack where it's like, 'One bump and my car is illegal,' that's a risk that ain't worth taking. That's why we don't do it with our organization."
As for his own car being illegal at New Hampshire, Hamlin said NASCAR always lets teams go back through the height sticks within a certain grace period after the race to make sure the various parts cool and settle down.
"Our car came back and it was correct, but it wasn't built incorrect – and that's one thing that their car was, it was built incorrectly," Hamlin said.
Johnson brushed off Bowyer's claim with a bit of exasperation.
"Shit, I don't care. I just drive the car," he said. "Regardless of what I say, people are going to believe that. So the hell with it, let's just write it."