NASCAR suspends Chase Elliott after wrecking Denny Hamlin at Charlotte race

Tribune Content Agency

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — NASCAR has agreed with Denny Hamlin.

A day after Hamlin was wrecked out of the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway by Chase Elliott — and a day after Hamlin subsequently told reporters that Elliott’s recklessness was the result of a retaliatory “tantrum” — NASCAR has dealt Elliott a one-race suspension, per NASCAR’s penalty sheet.

Elliott will serve the suspension at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Ill. Corey LaJoie will run in his stead.

“We understand NASCAR’s need to maintain consistency in its officiating,” Hendrick Motorsports PR released in a statement on Tuesday. Elliott drives the No. 9 Cup car for HMS.

“The penalty will not be appealed,” the statement continued, “and we will submit a formal request for a playoff waiver.”

NASCAR senior vice president of competition Elton Sawyer explained the sanctioning body’s decision to SirisXM NASCAR Radio on Tuesday.

“After looking at all the available resources — in-car camera, data, SMT, which gives us steering, which gives us throttle, which gives us braking — it was an intentional act by Chase in our opinion,” Sawyer said. “We have great racing on our racetrack. We have some of the most phenomenal athletes who are driving these cars. And in the heat of the battle, things happen.

“But they have to learn to react in a different way.”

The move that NASCAR assessed came with about 15 laps left in Stage 2: Hamlin appeared to get a little loose on Turn 4 and nudged Elliott into the wall as a result. Then, on the ensuing straightaway, Elliott appeared to make a hard right turn into Hamlin’s right-rear quarter panel — which sent the 11 car sliding head-first into the fence.

The wreck ended the days for both Elliott, NASCAR’s most popular driver, and Hamlin, the 2022 Coca-Cola 600 winner.

“It’s a tantrum, and he shouldn’t be racing next week,” Hamlin said after the incident just outside the racetrack’s infield care center. “Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. I don’t care.”

Hamlin then referenced a retaliatory wreck last year that Bubba Wallace initiated with Kyle Larson — a move that forced Wallace to serve a one-race suspension. (Wallace drives for 23XI Racing, the team Hamlin co-owns with Michael Jordan.)

“It’s the same thing Bubba Wallace did with Kyle Larson,” Hamlin said. “Exact same. He shouldn’t be racing. Tantrum.”

Right after the wreck, Elliott communicated in frustration with his team over the radio: “(Expletive) ran over us twice in the last four laps. Did I miss something there, or no?”

Elliott was more measured when he addressed the collision after he emerged from the infield care center.

“It was just an unfortunate circumstance,” Elliott told the Fox Sports broadcast. “The 11 (Hamlin) ran us up into the fence. Once you tear the right sides off these things, it is pretty much over.

“I thought our NAPA Chevy was getting stronger and it was nice to be making some gains. Our pit stops were really good. We were trying to get to Mile 600 and have a shot but unfortunately failed to do that again.”’

NASCAR agreeing with Hamlin is a rare occurrence. One of their most public disagreements came after the race in Phoenix earlier this year, when the driver of the No. 11 Cup car made contact with Ross Chastain and later insinuated on his podcast — ironically called “Actions Detrimental” — that the contact was intentional. (Hamlin was served a $50,000 fine and 25 driver-point deduction. His subsequent appeal was unsuccessful.)

Due to postponed events over the Memorial Day weekend of racing, teardown inspection at the R&D Center in Concord is still ongoing, per NASCAR. Any updates upon completion will be announced later this week.

Also on the penalty sheet from the race weekend at Charlotte:

— Michael McDowell will have two crew members suspended from the next two events after the 34 car lost a wheel during the Coca-Cola 600.

— The No. 18 (Sammy Smith) Xfinity Series team’s crew chief, Jeff Meendering, has been fined $5,000 for tires and wheels not being properly installed.

— The No. 74 (Dawson Cram) Xfinity team and driver have been assessed with the loss of 10 points after failing pre-race inspection (because of illegal air ducts).