Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

After Last Week's Finish, Texas-Size Hype; Elliott Being Promoted over Hamlin

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

After Last Week's Finish, Texas-Size Hype; Elliott Being Promoted over Hamlin

Article excerpt

Byline: Don Coble

By the time Texas Motor Speedway track president Eddie Gossage, NASCAR's best ringmaster, gets done promoting the way Denny Hamlin deliberately crashed Chase Elliott with less than two laps remaining last week, ticket sales and interest for Sunday's race at Texas should be at a zenith.

Hamlin was booed loudly by his home state fans from Virginia fans for dumping the young popular driver at the Martinsville Speedway in an attempt to win the race - and an automatic spot in the championship finale at Homestead on Nov. 19.

Elliott ended up in the wall - and a 27th-place finish. Clint Bowyer then turned Hamlin around coming to the checkered flag, and amid all the smoke, sparks and anger, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. snuck through to finish first and second.

NASCAR created the playoffs and added three rounds of eliminations to generate more interest and intensity for the final 10 races of the year as stock-cars go head-to-head with college and professional football.

Most, including Hamlin, believed what he did to Elliott went far beyond what should be accepted.

"I've raced nearly 10,000 races since I was (7)," Hamlin posted on his Twitter account. "(Sunday) was the first time I've ever spun out the leader. I regret the outcome because it was not intentional the way it turned out but I'm responsible for my own car and take blame. Nothing I say can turn back the clock but it's a life lesson and hope no kids out there aspire to race thinks that the way you should do it. It's becoming normal in our sport now and I hate that I'm now in the discussion as a guilty party but I'll move on and hope Chase, his team and fans accept my apology."

While NASCAR admitted Hamlin "was over the line," it stepped away from issuing any sanctions like it did in 2015 when it suspended Matt Kenseth for the final two races after he drove Joey Logano into the wall - and out of the playoffs - at Martinsville.

Bump-and-run passes are commonplace on short tracks, especially the paperclip-shaped half-mile at Martinsville. But Hamlin stayed on the gas after delivering the first bump and that drove Elliott into the wall without giving him an opportunity to save the car.

"Well he didn't make the corner because I had his back end jacked up - that's for sure," Hamlin said. "I was extremely loose, I got in there too hot and got into the back of him."

Elliott wasn't interested in any of Hamlin's excuses.

"I got punted from behind and wrecked in Turn 3 leading the race. I don't know what his problem was," Elliott said. "It was unnecessary. I hadn't raced him dirty all day long. There was no reason for that and he comes over, and talks to me and tells me he had somebody pushing him into Turn 3. I thought that was funny because there was nobody within two car lengths of him into Turn 3 behind myself. …

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