clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Denny Hamlin says ‘there was absolutely no intent’ to crash Chase Elliott at Martinsville

New, comments

Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott were racing for the win and a berth in NASCAR’s championship final when Hamlin spun Elliott out with two laps remaining.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series First Data 500 - Practice
Denny Hamlin climbs into his car during practice for the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 28, 2017.
Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Denny Hamlin reiterated Thursday that he did not intentionally wreck Chase Elliott during the closing laps of Sunday’s Monster Energy Cup Series playoff semifinal race at Martinsville Speedway.

Elliott was leading the First Data 500 with two regulation laps remaining when Hamlin rear-ended Elliott’s No. 24 car and sent him spinning. Hamlin and Elliott were vying for a win that would’ve automatically advanced either racer out of the semifinal round and into the four-driver championship final at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“I know in my head there was absolutely no intent,” Hamlin said Thursday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Hamlin issued an apology on social media Sunday night accepting responsibility for the incident, explaining that he was not a driver who would deliberately crash a competitor to win a race. On Thursday, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver was asked by the hosts of Tradin’ Paint about that statement and the reasoning behind posting it.

“I was on my way home, just thinking about things,” Hamlin said. “Obviously, what I was being regretful for was being too aggressive at that time. I know in my head there was absolutely no intent. I pretty much laid it all out there. It’s the first time I’ve been ever in a situation like that before.

“I think my reputation on the racetrack and the way I drive speaks for itself.”

Because Elliott crashed at Martinsville, he likely will need to win one of the two races left in the semifinals — Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway and Nov. 12 at Phoenix Raceway — to avoid being one of four drivers eliminated when the round concludes at Phoenix.

Hamlin, who finished seventh at Martinsville, is still positioned in the standings where he could advance to the championship round based on his points ranking. He said making it to Homestead still title-eligible is his sole focus and that he is unconcerned with Elliott attempting to seek retribution over an incident he perceives as intentional.

“I’ve told them that however you want to race me is absolutely fine. I’ll be OK with that,” Hamlin said. “So I’m not worried about it. I have no time to be worried about anything like that. We have two more races to get ourselves in the final four and Texas is the first step to doing that.”

Hamlin said he has attempted to reach out to Elliott, but the two have not communicated since a heated exchange between them immediately following the race at Martinsville.

“I’ve offered to have contact and a conversation,” Hamlin said. “But, typical, when someone is mad, they choose not to.”