Ross Chastain may not be the real issue in their ongoing feud according to Denny Hamlin

LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA - JULY 24: Ross Chastain, driver of the #1 Worldwide Express Chevrolet, leads the field during the NASCAR Cup Series M&M's Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono Raceway on July 24, 2022 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Depending on whose side you’re on, Denny Hamlin is either a hero, or a villain.

Hamlin orignally won the NASCAR Cup race at Pocono Raceway Sunday, but that win came at the expense of Ross Chastain who was blocking his way to the lead late in the going.

Perhaps Chastain had a bit of satisfaction later as Hamlin was stripped of the win and second place finisher and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate  Kyle Busch also DQ’d after both cars failed post race tech.

On a restart on lap 142 after the races eighth caution, Chastain had the lead with Hamlin just below.

Exiting Turn 2, Hamlin seemed to move up, the two touched and Chastain’s Chevy was sent careening into the inside wall, and out of the race. The latest brush up comes after the two have feuded on track several times this season including at Gateway where Hamlin was one of several drivers he tangled with.

After that race, Chastain took responsibility for his actions.

“It’s good, he takes responsibility,” Hamlin said at the time. “But you know, ultimately it ruined our day.”

Then at Atlanta the two got together again, with Hamlin once again coming out on the worst end, finishing 25th while Chastain finished second.

As for retaliation after that dustup, Hamlin was sort of noncommittal.

“I mean, things just work themselves out in the end.” Hamlin said after that race, adding with a chuckle. “You know, we certainly aren’t cutting any breaks, going forward.”

He might not have cut any ground Sunday, or maybe he did.

“I mean, what did you want me to do?” Hamlin said after winning Sunday. “What did you expect me to do? We got position on him, and he just ran out of racetrack.”

Later he gave a fuller accounting of what happened.

“We drove in deep, and he (Ross Chastain) drove in deep and I’m not even sure if we made contact, maybe we did,” Hamlin said. “He ended up running out of racetrack. He knew I was going to race him hard, what else do you want me to do after the wrecks that I’ve had and that’s what we did today.”

For his part, Chastain was scored 34th with a DNF.

“That’s something that’s probably been owed to me for a month or two now,” Chastain said. “And he cashed in.”

Chastain later stuck to his narrative.

“It was something that has been owed to me for a few months now,” he said. “I’m proud of the effort by Trackhouse Racing and everybody on this No. 1 Worldwide Express Chevy. It’s week in and week out that we keep bringing fast Chevy Camaro’s. Everybody at Advent Health, Moose Fraternity and Jockey – to keep bringing bullets like that and keep bringing fast cars is a testament to everybody at Chevrolet.”

As for moving forward, Hamlin indicated that perhaps it wasn’t the driver per-se but Trackhouse Racing team owner Justin Marks who has been very vocal about the ongoing feud on social media.

“You just race people the way you get raced in the end,” Hamlin said. “It was egged on by his car owner on Twitter and said he can’t wait so it just fired me up over those incidents. We’re just going to continue to race hard and I’m going to race him the same way.”

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Photos: NASCAR at Pocono Raceway Sunday July 24, 2022

Greg Engle