Hamlin vows to get even with Chastain after Enjoy Illinois 300 wreck

MADISON, Ill. (AP) – Denny Hamlin posted a clip to Twitter late Sunday essentially mashing his beef with Ross Chastain from earlier in the day with a scene from “Days of Thunder” as Tom Cruise’s character tells his team, that he should change his tires after the end of a race so he could go back and destroy his foil.

A pretty clear message Hamlin sent out.

His simmering spit with Chastain was brought to a boil during Leg 2 of the NASCAR Cup Series debut at World Wide Technology Raceway when the eighth-generation watermelon farmer couldn’t handle Hamlin Stick.

Chastain eventually ran too hard into the tight first corner, touching the #11 and sending it into the wall.

Hamlin spent the rest of the afternoon getting revenge. At one point he almost drove Chastain into the grass along the back straight as they ran side by side. At another, Hamlin slowed to a crawl with the No. 1 car behind him, nearly preventing both of them from reaching minimum speed to stay on track.

“It’s totally unacceptable that I did that,” Chastain said of the wreck afterwards, offering a mea culpa that fell on many deaf ears in the garage area.

“I was just off driving. Meeting people is not acceptable at his level. I can’t believe where I am at now that I just made so many mistakes in a row.”

Chastain also briefly touched the bumpers with Joey Logano, who passed Kyle Busch for the win in overtime, and Chase Elliott, who was just as forgiving as Hamlin when the two met again.

Elliott nearly pushed Chastain into the wall before Hamlin took another swipe at the No. 1 right behind them.

“He wasn’t shy after our contact,” Hamlin said. “It seemed like there wasn’t a consciousness there that said, ‘Maybe I’ll get a little aggressive.’ That’s his decision. He can make any decision he wants. He’s his own guy.

“He’s been very successful at what he does,” Hamlin continued, “but ultimately the sport is a self-regulation.

That could mean this weekend in Sonoma, where the street course offers plenty of corners and plenty of opportunities to ruin a day. Or if Hamlin wants to send a message “when it means the most,” it could be during the playoffs — Chastain has two wins this season, and Hamlin has secured his place by winning the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte and the winner is.

Track policing has always been a part of NASCAR, from the groundbreaking early days of racing on a beach in Daytona, Fla., through the 1980s and 1990s when almost everyone could count on Dale Earnhardt to keep everyone in line.

“It’s good that he’s taking responsibility,” Hamlin said of Chastain, “but it ended up ruining our day.”

Ruined his night too. Hamlin then spent hours on Twitter with Trackhouse Racing’s Justin Marks, the owner of Chastain’s car, who responded, “I can’t wait,” to Hamlin’s comment about fencing his driver.

“You’re not helping JM,” Hamlin tweeted in response, before adding, “I mean you can keep stoking if you want.”

Sounds like the start of a feud between two of the sport’s progressive young owners – Hamlin drives for Joe Gibbs Racing but also owns 23XI Racing with Michael Jordan and fields cars for Kurt Busch and Bubba Wallace.

Incidentally, it was Hamlin-the-owner who pushed Ricky Stenhouse Jr. a little harder on Sunday, getting in the back of Wallace and sending him out for a ride.

“We all learned it the hard way,” Hamlin said. “We all took it our way.”

As for Chastain, his relentless approach to the track is in some ways a by-product of his upbringing in the sport, where he fights for every opportunity along the way. He once drove a team’s RV to the circuit to earn some extra cash and has seen a multitude of opportunities fall by the wayside due to factors well beyond his own control.

“Ross has spent a number of years in his career fighting every lap of every race because tomorrow wasn’t given because next week wasn’t guaranteed,” Marks said recently. “I have and see so much talent in him that my goal was to put him in a position where he didn’t have to do that, where he had some job security.”

In other words, Marks will always be quick to defend his driver, whether it’s on social media or in the garage, but he also wouldn’t mind if Chastain calmed down a bit once he put the window netting on.

It’s something Chastain vowed to do again after a wreck-ridden race outside of St. Louis.

“I owe half the field an apology,” he said. “Words won’t fix it, so I’ll have to pay for it at the track. I almost did today and I deserve everything they do. I can’t believe I kept making the same mistakes; Oversteer the corners and drive into boys. I had time to back up and we would turn green and I would drive into someone.

https://fox2now.com/sports/hamlin-vows-to-get-even-with-chastain-after-gateway-wreck/ Hamlin vows to get even with Chastain after Enjoy Illinois 300 wreck

Nate Jones

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