NASCAR senior vice president of competition, Elton Sawyer, has now publicly discussed the decision to suspend driver Chase Elliot for this upcoming weekend’s race at the Enjoy Illinois 300 after the former Cup Series star was found to have intentionally wrecked fellow driver Denny Hamlin at the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
During a conversation discussing the issue with SiriusXM NASCAR this week, Sawyer stated that Elliott had pushed Hamlin into the wall during the race on Monday, saying “It was as intentional act by Chase in our opinion in our view after reviewing all of the available resources.”
Sawyer added that Elliott jeopardized the safety of not only himself and Hamlin, but also other drivers by intentionally causing him to collide with the wall on Lap 186.
💭 “After looking at all the available resources […] it was an intentional act by Chase.”
— SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) (@SiriusXMNASCAR) May 30, 2023
The incident unfolded on the front stretch when Elliott, exiting Turn 4, made contact with the wall while racing alongside Hamlin. It seemed that Elliott felt aggrieved by being squeezed against the wall by Hamlin, prompting him to retaliate by intentionally making contact with him. Hamlin shared his perspective on the matter after being assessed at the infield care center.
Hamlin said in a post-race interview on Monday that “I got right rear hooked in the middle of a straightaway.”
“Yeah, it’s a tantrum and he [Elliott] shouldn’t be racing next week,” he continued. “Right rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. I don’t care, it’s the same thing Bubba Wallace did with Kyle Larson. The exact same. He shouldn’t be racing.”
NASCAR officials have reached the same verdict as Hamlin, confirming that Elliott deliberately caused the crash despite the 2020 Cup Series champion denying it during an interview with Fox Sports after the incident. Elliott claimed that Hamlin pushed him towards the fence, resulting in damage to his car. However, NASCAR’s assessment contradicts Elliott’s statement, concluding that the wreck was intentional.
Elliott will now need to request a waiver to stay eligible for the playoffs, where he is currently sitting in 29th in the current standings. Corey LaJoie has been announced to be his replacement for Enjoy Illinois 300 this weekend.
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