Dale Earnhardt Jr. weighed in on whether or not he thinks Denny Hamlin will win his appeal after he was fined $50,000 and docked 25 driver points after he intentionally fenced Ross Chastain during the race at Phoenix.
In a blog post, NASCAR announced the fine and penalty writing, “Denny Hamlin was fined $50,000 and lost 25 driver points for violating Sections 4.4 in the NASCAR Member Code of Conduct, which cover attempting to manipulate the outcome of the race or championship; wrecking or spinning another vehicle, whether or not that vehicle is removed from competition as a result; and actions detrimental to stock car racing or NASCAR.”
During the final laps of the race at Phoenix, Hamlin drove up the track and intentionally ran Chastain into the wall as you can see in the video below:
Hamlin admitted to intentionally fencing Chastain on his podcast, Actions Detrimental, before the penalty was issued. He said, ““I’m about to get passed by everybody behind me who is on fresh tires. I’m about to finish in the mid teens. And I said, ‘You’re coming with me, buddy.’ It wasn’t a mistake. No, it wasn’t a mistake. I let the wheel go and I said, ‘He’s coming with me.’”
He would later add during the podcast, “I saw that we were the only people up top so I said, ‘I’m gonna send him in the fence and door him.’”
Hamlin even went on to admit that he attempted to spin out Chastain in the next corner as well, “He actually got the jump. He downshifted quicker and then he brake checked me a few times. You saw that from the inboard down the backstretch. He hit the brakes a couple times and I wasn’t letting off at all. It didn’t matter to me. And then after the brake checks then I went in to the next corner and tried.”
While Hamlin admitted to intentionally trying to wreck Chastain, he also revealed he and Chastain spoke at length following the race and that they had decided to come to a truce.
Hamlin relayed, “I just think we need to just race each other with better respect from this point forward and that’s what I hope to get out of this. He asked for a truce. I asked for a truce. And let’s just see how it goes from here.”
NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Competition Elton Sawyer revealed in a press conference that Hamlin’s admission on the podcast played a major impact into their decision to punish him.
He explained, “We would have viewed that as a racing incident, but then it’s 24 hours later, you 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.”
He added, “There’s no other way to look at that. We’re going to get involved in those situations. We’ve been consistent in the past with that and we will be consistent going forward.”
Hamlin initially said he would not be making an appeal on March 15. He wrote on Twitter, “I won’t be making an appeal to NASCAR. However I will be making an appeal to the people. I’ll see you next Monday. #ADDH”
However, two days later he revealed he would indeed be appealing writing, “After much consideration I’ve decided that I will appeal the decision by NASCAR to penalize me.”
He added, “What happened on Sunday was common hard racing that happens each and every weekend. There was also no manipulation of the race nor actions detrimental to the sport.”
Hamlin explained on his podcast why he changed his mind and chose to appeal saying, “Right after NASCAR announced that they were going to penalize me, I got a call from Joe [Gibbs]. He says, ‘While we might not agree that they should have done this, we think that you need to just let this go.’ And I was okay with that.”
He continued, “And that’s when I sent the saying, ‘Hey, I’m not going to appeal to NASCAR, I’m going to appeal tot he people.’ So then I slept on it for a night and I woke up the next day and I get the email from NASCAR of what they are penalizing me for. And I’m looking at it and I’m reading it and I’m like, ‘I didn’t do any of these things.'”
“I called Joe back and so he says, ‘All right, well, let me hear it,’ Hamlin relayed. “And so he put me on speakerphone and I explained to everyone, you know, exactly here’s what they said I did. This is not right. And at the end of it, they just said, ‘We understand. Do you want to appeal? Then we support you.’ And so here we are.”
NEW ACTIONS DETRIMENTAL OUT NOW!
So why did @DennyHamlin decide to appeal NASCAR’s punishment?
— Dirty Mo Media (@DirtyMoMedia) March 20, 2023
Jr. shared that he does not believe Hamlin’s appeal will succeed. On a recent episode of the Dale Jr. Download he said, “I don’t feel a whole lot of confidence in him changing it whatsoever.”
While Jr, didn’t have much confidence in the appeal succeeding he did add, “I would fight it too because I feel like whether he’s got a case or not the points are so important. He’s got to try to get some of those back. And so if you can get the points back even if you pay more fine like Byron did last year. He had the same penalty as Denny and his got shifted away from points to more money. I think I’d be trying to make that happen.”
Jr. then reiterated, “I just don’t feel like Denny has a ton of leverage here.”
What do you make of Hamlin’s chances for appeal?