Austin Dillon: Menard hit me, took me out of the race

Austin Dillon made an early exit midway through the first stage of Sunday’s Pocono 400, clanking the outside retaining wall after contact from Paul Menard’s No. 21 Ford at Pocono Raceway.

RELATED: Race results

Dillon’s Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet sustained severe damage after the nudge from Menard’s car. He exited the Monster Energy Series event after completing just 28 laps and finished last in the 37-car field.

“Yeah, he did. That’s disappointing,” Dillon told FOX Sports, when asked if contact between the two cars had occurred. “We had a pretty decent car, and the car’s killed, and 21 hit us. You can see everybody’s piled up in there, and he drove in too deep, missed the corner, hit me in in the back, took me out of the race.”

WATCH: Dillon exits race early

Dillon was unhurt, checked and released from the infield care center. When told by reporters that Menard had accepted blame over his team’s in-car communications, Dillon said it was little consolation.

“Well, it takes me out of the race, kills us in the points,” he said. “I know he’s close in points, too, and it’s all where it’s at. It’s disappointing. That’s all I’ve got to say about it. There’s nothing nice I have to say about him right now.”

For his part, Menard reiterated taking full responsibility for the incident in a post-race interview and said he planned to chat with Dillon as soon as possible — moments after exiting his race car with an 18th-place finish.

“I had the 11 (Denny Hamlin) coming on the inside of me,” Menard said. “Somebody got all jammed up — they checked up earlier than I thought and I (expletive) up.”

When asked if he would reach out to Dillon, Menard said, “I’m going to go talk to him.”

The two drivers were former teammates at Richard Childress Racing, with Menard’s tenure running from 2011-17 and Dillon joining the premier series full-time with RCR in 2014. The veteran Menard is in his second year driving for Wood Brothers Racing.

“Paul Menard’s been doing this for a long time,” Dillon said. “Was a teammate with him at some point. Just, I don’t know — he still hasn’t figured it out, I guess.”

Contributing: RJ Kraft at Pocono