Denny Hamlin makes Championship 4 despite getting ‘hacked’

MARTINSVILLE, VIRGINIA - OCTOBER 31: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, impedes Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, celebration after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 31, 2021 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Denny Hamlin had quite the range of emotions Sunday at Martinsville.

Hamlin started the day on a low note as his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota failed pre-race inspection twice and he was forced to start from the rear of the field. Then he had to overcome two pit road speeding penalties.

He was leading in the closing laps, a spot very familiar to the five-time Martinsville winner but being closely pursued by Alex Bowman. Seven laps from the end, Hamlin’s race all came apart after contact with Bowman sent Hamlin’s Toyota spinning in Turn 3. Bowman would go on to win.

The immediate aftermath of the spin left Hamlin with bigger problems, however. Hamlin came into the day pretty secure in the points but still needing to finish 27th or better to move to the Championship 4. Hamlin finished 24th.

Bowman said he had no intention of spinning Hamlin.

“I just got loose in,” Bowman said. “I got in too deep, knocked him out of the way and literally let him have the lead back. For anybody that wants to think I was trying to crash him, obviously wasn’t the case considering I literally gave up the lead at Martinsville to give it back to him.”

Hamlin showed his displeasure with the final result by pulling his Toyota up to the face Bowman’s Chevy at the start finish line after the race.

“He’s just a hack. Just an absolute hack,” Hamlin said. “He gets his ass kicked by his teammates every week. He’s f—king terrible. He’s just terrible. He sees one opportunity, he takes it.

“Obviously, he’s got the fast car of the week and he runs 10th. He didn’t want to race us there. We had a good, clean race. I moved up as high as I could on the racetrack to give him all the room I could, he still can’t drive.

“I mean, we got in, do what we had to do. I just wanted to race there at the end. He’s just terrible.”

Bowman said he wanted no part of the car-to-car confrontation at the start-finish line after the race.

“Have you ever been to Bowman Gray Stadium?” Bowman said. “I’ve gone there and watched. That’s what it felt like. When they had that TV show with the mods running there, I watched the heck out of that. It was really entertaining then. Not so entertaining when you’re living it. Just didn’t want to be a part of that, make us both look dumb. So I just tried to not be a part of it. I wasn’t going to try to do stuff like that. That’s not who I am.

“I understand why he’s mad. I’d be mad, too. I drove off into the corner, got loose, spun him out. At the same time, I didn’t do it on purpose. If I did, I’d tell you. That’s part of it.”

At the end of the day, Hamlin will race for a title, while Bowman celebrates his 4th win of 2021. And Bowman added:

“Regardless, we get a free grandfather clock.”

Greg Engle