SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Denny Hamlin took a long walk down pit road following a chaotic ending to Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.
The end result of that stroll was a visit with Chase Briscoe.
With two laps remaining during the final overtime restart, Briscoe made contact with the back bumper of Hamlin’s No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, sending Hamlin for a spin. A moment prior on the same lap, Briscoe went off-course at the exit of Turn 1, going through the grass and getting back on track alongside Hamlin for the lead.
Briscoe’s move back onto the race track was considered cutting the course, so NASCAR officials handed down a stop-and-go penalty to Briscoe. According to Briscoe, he wasn’t aware of the penalty when he was racing Hamlin for the lead, which ultimately led to the contact and spin.
Hamlin finished 23rd while Briscoe was parked by NASCAR officials after running into the back of Hamlin under penalty. Briscoe was listed as finishing 26th.
The two drivers discussed the incident for a brief amount of time before parting ways.
“At first, I didn’t know if I was getting anywhere,” Briscoe said of his conversation with Hamlin on pit road. “Once I explained to him that I didn’t even know I had a penalty until I got to Turn 10, if I knew I had a penalty, there was no need for me to even try to pass him for the win. If I would have known that earlier, I would have done my stop-and-go and went on. As I understood it, at that moment in time I could still win the race and I was going for it and got into him accidentally.”
Hamlin did agree that Briscoe did not intentionally make the contact, but that didn’t help the sting of defeat.
“I agree it’s not on purpose, but my team told me that he had a penalty right away and to me, it’s obvious,” Hamlin said. “If you cut the race track and end up in the lead, you’re going to have a penalty. Lack of awareness. Race me for a lap. He went right in the back of me.
“We can’t race that way,” Hamlin added. “I don’t think he did it (maliciously). I’ve raced with him for a year now. He’s not that kind of person, just bad judgment.”
Briscoe felt he made some headway with Hamlin’s understanding of the situation toward the end of their conversation.
“(Hamlin) has been there when you are trying to get your first win and especially in our playoff situation, you have to do what you have to do,” Briscoe said. “That is what I get paid to do and that is what I was trying to do.”
Car owner Tony Stewart watched on while Briscoe and Hamlin hashed it out. Following the discussion, Stewart offered Briscoe some words of encouragement.
“I’m just glad you stood up for yourself on it,” Stewart said. “You deserve to. That’ll go a long way. I’m proud of you.”
After the race, NASCAR Vice President of Competition Scott Miller addressed Briscoe’s penalty and the driver being unaware when it occurred.
“It was announced over the race channel that he (Briscoe) had a penalty and needed to serve it prior to having the incident out there with the 11 (Hamlin),” Miller said. “…There wasn’t much time left by the time that we called the penalty and him getting into it with the 11. We will do some investigation and make sure the spotter conveyed the message well to the driver before that happened. That was unfortunate how that went.”