HAMPTON, Ga. — The on-track incidents continued for Ross Chastain in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and one of them involved a familiar face: Denny Hamlin.
Both the No. 1 Chevrolet of Chastain and the No. 11 Toyota of Hamlin were racing toward the front in the closing laps when Chastain clipped Hamlin’s left-rear and sent the No. 11 spinning from fourth place.
At first glance, it was a loose replay of their incident at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway earlier this year, one that sparked a feud between the two racers.
But when asked about the routine run-ins with Hamlin and others, Chastain pumped the brakes.
“This one’s so different because I had so much damage,” Chastain said in a post-race interview. “Y’all know that I would take full responsibility if I just ran into him. I had so much damage, I was so much tighter, we had done a lot to free the car up and it was just way too tight. And I just couldn’t carry the throttle I could earlier and I still lifted some but it wasn’t enough.
“But I don’t put this one anywhere near the other incidents.”
The No. 1 Chevrolet saw its front end damaged after a Stage 2 tangle with Martin Truex Jr. According to Chastain, that made the car increasingly tougher to handle down the stretch.
“We had a lot of damage to repair and get it turning again,” said Chastain. “And we had to completely shift the balance of the car. … I should have lifted more and just slid up and was tight. I knew I was gonna be tight, it was just down to the end and I just overestimated the grip level and was sliding. And his left-rear is what caught me.”
After expressing his thoughts after the last incident, Denny Hamlin took a more cryptic approach in his post-race interview with NBC Sports: “It all works out in the end.”
Hamlin had been hanging around the top five nearly all afternoon. The late spin and a subsequent crash seven laps later relegated the No. 11 team to a 25th-place finish.
“I truly hate it for those guys and him,” Chastain said. “I’ve gotten to know him a lot better the last few weeks. … We’ve got a relationship now where I can talk to him, I’ve got his phone number now. I definitely will [reach out to him] and keep working towards a better relationship there.”