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Another round of Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports rivalries played out in Nashville. Being the two winningest teams in the NASCAR Cup Series, both inevitably slip into heated battles every weekend. And their two stellar drivers once again became the poster boys for this endless rivalry.

Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson faced off yet again at the Ally 400 race. In a steamy fight for the lead toward the end, it started when Larson tried to knock Hamlin out. This was presumably in response to last weekend’s feud. However, Hamlin chose to snuff out his ire post-race, although Larson partially got his revenge.

The JGR driver cools down after Larson’s attack

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The now-legendary rivalry between Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson began last year. In the 2023 Pocono race, the No. 11 dove beneath the No. 5 and aggressively stole the lead. This move established Hamlin as the black hat of NASCAR and kicked off the seething feud with Larson. The Hendrick Motorsports driver cultivated a grudge against his rival, which ended in a clash at the Nashville Superspeedway.

Last weekend in New Hampshire, the rain delay made Denny Hamlin more aggressive. Trading paint and heated exchanges followed with Kyle Larson, who took out his frustrations on his spotter. But a week later, the No. 5 driver paid back in kind. On the overtime restart at lap 305, Larson pushed Hamlin into turn 1, catching the apron and shooting him up the track and into Ross Chastain. Hamlin responded by bumping into Larson, who said post-race, “Yeah, he was just upset with the way I was racing him at the end of the second stage. But it’s racing.”

However, Denny Hamlin calmed down after the race, as he acknowledged Larson’s payback tactics. “I mean, it was an eye for an eye right? I ran him up the track a little bit last week and he ran me up this week. And it’s all good. Obviously, he got into us and knocked us into the 22. Then I think, I’m not sure if he wiped out the 1 or not, driving in one. But it’s all fun.”

 

 

Kyle Larson got the upper hand this time, as he unloaded his year-long frustration on his track rival. However, both got relegated out of winning contention for an entirely different reason.

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But Denny Hamlin did not give up until the end

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When the race entered the restart zone, all the leaders were gambling with the fuel card. Both Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson had dwindling fuel tanks. Eventually, the overstretched race axed their top-five aspirations. Like many others, Larson had not pitted since lap 220, and by the third restart, he was not able to accelerate. Hamlin ran into fuel issues as well, finishing 12th as a result. But he was willing to drag his vehicle for as long as he could.

Eventually, the second overtime restart claimed his fortune. Yet Hamlin acknowledged the well-planned fuel loss. “We ran out there under that caution. [Crew chief Chris Gabehart] was monitoring fuel pressure. I let him know what the fuel pressure was. We were fine with just running out of gas, but we did under caution. So it was the right call. I was going down pit lane there out of gas. I was surprised it lasted that many green/white checkereds, honestly.”

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USA Today via Reuters

So although Kyle Larson intended to snuff out Denny Hamlin’s chances himself, ultimately gas issues did the job and entangled the Hendrick driver as well. Overall Nashville was a great success as fans would say. What are your thoughts? Did you enjoy?