Denny Hamlin Feb 19, 2023; Daytona Beach, Florida, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin (11) during the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday, NASCAR announced that Denny Hamlin was penalized $50,000 and 25 driver points for intentional contact with Ross Chastain in the final laps of the Phoenix Cup Series race.

On his podcast, Actions Detrimental with Denny Hamlin, Hamlin was honest, revealing that he intentionally got into Chastain and squeezed him in between Hamlin’s Toyota and the outside wall. Hamlin also said that the two came to a “truce” after the race, and are moving forward.

Many figured Hamlin’s comments got him the penalty rather than the actual act, and they would be proven right. NASCAR SVP of Competition Elton Sawyer was on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio and confirmed that the sanctioning body would have viewed it as a “racing incident” until Hamlin spoke up about what happened.

Sawyer said, “We would’ve viewed that as a racing incident. But then as, 24 hours later, have a competitor that has gone on a podcast, which I will say, we’re delighted that Denny has a podcast. We think that’s great. Interacts with the fans. But when you start admitting that you have intentionally done something that would compromise the results of the end of the race, then that rises to a level that we’re going to get involved.”

This wouldn’t be the first time a NASCAR driver’s honesty for what they did on the track earned them a suspension. That being said, it does raise a very important point. In a sport where drivers are criticized for not being open, and so many of the stars are “vanilla,” NASCAR is penalizing someone who dares to do the opposite.

On one hand, I get the situation NASCAR is in. There are rules about intentionally getting into someone, and that’s a lot easier to prove when someone admits that’s what they did. In all honesty, the optics are bad, but their hands are tied, and they have to do something. On the other hand, this isn’t going to help drivers discuss their driving mindset through the media or on their own social media or podcast channels. Thankfully, NASCAR has lightened up on fining drivers who criticize the sport, but if they really want drivers to stop being so “vanilla,” they could do a better job picking what it is that drivers get penalized for what they said.


About Phillip Bupp

Producer/editor of the Awful Announcing Podcast and Short and to the Point. News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. Highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @phillipbupp