Did Chase Elliott Just Intentionally Wreck Denny Hamlin on a Straight?

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Chase Elliott Wrecks Denny Hamlin on a StraightNASCAR on Fox / Twitter

Today's delayed Coca-Cola 600 was briefly stopped by an interesting crash between two major week-by-week contenders, Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott. That itself is fairly standard in a NASCAR race, but Hamlin's accusation that Elliott intentionally turned into him on a straightaway to cause a wreck at full speed is not.

The crash starts with Hamlin and Elliott racing side-by-side. Hamlin crowds Elliott, who ends up hitting the outside wall. Elliott seems to be under control on the exit of the corner, but he suddenly veers to the left on the quad-oval-shaped straightaway and spins Hamlin into a hard hit with the wall. That, Hamlin speculated instantly on his radio, could have been an intentional move by Elliott to wreck Hamlin.


In addition to the clear safety and etiquette concerns that come with wrecking someone on a straightaway at a fast track, the move is notable because NASCAR has already handed out a suspension for a similar crash in the past year. In that crash, Bubba Wallace wrecked Kyle Larson at Las Vegas and received a one-race break for his troubles. Denny Hamlin was also punished for retaliation this season after an incident with Ross Chastain at Phoenix, but that was viewed as a lesser infraction than an intentional wreck on a straightaway and did not land Hamlin a suspension.

In an in-race interview with NASCAR on FOX, Elliott denied that the crash was a result of retaliation. He suggested that he lost control after hitting the wall, saying that his returning move to wreck Hamlin was "unfortunately not" retaliation. Whether or not that claim holds up for NASCAR will likely come down to how his statement compares against telemetry data showing throttle, brake, and steering traces after the crash. With more than 180 laps remaining in today's delayed 400-lap race, any announcement of a decision on a suspension will have to wait until later in the week.

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