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Brad Keselowski Defends NASCAR After Officiating Blunder Lets Denny Hamlin Take Unfair Advantage in Richmond

Published 04/02/2024, 7:51 PM EDT

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The Commonwealth of Virginia at the Toyota Owners 400 saw Denny Hamlin win his 53rd career Cup Series victory. Ironically, JGR’s #11 driver has been drawing the moniker “the Jumpman,” a clever wordplay based on his controversial “jump ahead” on the final restart that VP of Competitions at NASCAR, Elton Sawyer deemed “a good restart” after the race.

However, Sawyer reverted to his original statements after reviewing the restart in recent times, claiming, “There’s no doubt he (Hamlin) rolled early.” The VP’s honesty resonated with the drivers’ paddock, and Brad Keselowski was the most recent to defend NASCAR’s officiating blunder in Richmond.

Sometimes things slip through the cracks,” says Brad Keselowski

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The incident in question has been deemed ‘controversial’ considering the initial reason for the caution—a Bubba Wallace push leading to a Kyle Larson spin. Late tussles sent the 400-lap race into overtime as the green waved, awaiting the white, and the checkered on lap 407. Hamlin seemed to be “a few feet ahead” of the competition, according to admissions on the latest episode of Actions Detrimental. 

NASCAR’s officiating fell under scrutiny, and Denny’s “Jumpgate” became the season’s latest talking point. Nevertheless, the Camry XSE  reigned supreme as Joey Logano followed Hamlin in P2, breaking out the #22 Ford’s best outing of the season. The only other Fords to join Logano in the top 10 were RFK Racing’s #17 and #6 Mustang Dark Horses, courtesy of Chris Buescher and supportive owner/driver Brad Keselowski.

In recent revelations via Bob Pockrass on Twitter, Keselowski told the media, “Well, I think first and foremost I really respected Elton Sawyer’s answer when he said they just missed it. I think that’s okay. I think that happens in sports.” 

 

Moreover, the #6 driver was an image of class, as he compared the different potential “scenarios” at play in Richmond. “You know, ideal scenario, we don’t have to ever put them in a position where an official has to make a decision where we have all the technology, all the things, and everything is just black and white. But the world’s not that perfect. For technology to do everything, it’s hard to ascertain and make foolproof so, you know, sometimes things slip through the cracks and you get mad at them and then a week later everybody seems to forget about them,” stated Brad Keselowski.

The unpredictable nature of the NASCAR season was on full display under the lights at Richmond, but the controversies did not end with the final caution as the debut of Goodyear’s new Wet Weather tires caused quite the parity in NASCAR’s tightest field in its 76-year history.

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Caution for unintended consequences

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The Richmond race also marked the first time the Goodyear “Wets” graced a points race on an oval track in the NextGen era, following up on all the conversations regarding “parity” and this year’s tire codes. Cars running with the wets on debut were almost half a second faster than the slicks, in the initial laps until NASCAR called competition caution for a switch back to the intended tire compounds on lap 30.

Interestingly, Hamlin, the loudest advocate of the “parity” debate, faced issues for most of the race due to the evident balance on display. Initially, underdogs like Josh Berry and Bubba Wallace battled for the lead in between stages. Nevertheless, championship pedigree prevailed as Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson and Denny’s JGR teammate Martin Truex Jr combined to lead almost 94 percent of all laps in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond.

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MTJ suffered “unintentionally” the most from the “consequences” of Hamlin’s accepted “jump” in overtime, as Larson eventually took the #19’s P3 spot. Brad Keselowski seemed to acknowledge this fact when he iterated, “You’d like this all for challenges like that. Just being careful that you don’t fall into the natural law of unintended consequences that seems to follow that.” With the season now heading to Martinsville, the former champs will surely be looking forward to overturning their 2024 disappointments.

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Written by:

Amman Augustin

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Amman Augustin is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. With his coverage majorly focusing on the lavish off-track lives of drivers, Amman often brings the lesser-known side of Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick to their fans. Another aspect of NASCAR where he flourishes is covering rivalries between competitors.
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Edited by:

Shivali Nathta