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Denny Hamlin Defends NASCAR’s ‘Little Break’ to Flag Kyle Busch’s Strange Collision in Richmond

Published 04/02/2024, 3:10 PM EDT

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As Denny Hamlin cruised to victory at Richmond Raceway, his rivals were left stinging. The late caution called on lap 398 sealed the fate of several veteran drivers vying for the trophy. When you dial back a couple of hundred laps, you will see Kyle Busch spinning and hitting the wall on lap 170 which also changed the momentum of the race.

Busch seemed to lose control of his ride, and the yellow lights flickered into life as NASCAR called a caution. This decision raised a few eyebrows and Hamlin recently broached this topic and stood by the officials’ call to wave the yellow flag.

Denny Hamlin sanctions Busch-spurred caution

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Following his measly finish of 20th place at Richmond Raceway, Busch attributed his troubles partly to his car. He crowned the Toyotas for their excellent performance in securing spots. But the Chevrolets, one of which he drove, could not pick up spots from behind the pack. At Richmond Busch hit the wall on lap 170 which drew a caution, affecting the strategies of a few drivers.

Richmond champ Denny Hamlin analyzed the situation on his podcast Action Detrimental.We’ve thrown cautions for cars going up and scraping the wall before. But we’ve also had cautions in some other major sh*t is going on. I don’t know, I mean, it’s a tough thing to do. Certainly, they saw that the 8 was okay. He came back down to the racing groove and appeared he was taking back off again,” Hamlin said.

Denny Hamlin went ahead and sanctioned NASCAR’s move to throw a caution. “My intuition tells me, they were probably at a point in the race where we were in the middle of a long green flag run. They didn’t mind a caution, and I think they were looking for a little break at that moment.”

In the podcast, Hamlin also explained the reason why Busch was hit with a caution flag after hitting the wall but kept going. Hamlin said, “The interesting thing with Richmond is the cycle was 40 laps wide. You had cars pitting at so many various times, that it wasn’t really a defined green-flag cycle.” 

Hamlin also provided a reason as to why the officials decided to flag a caution at that point, “I think that’s why they threw this caution is it wasn’t going to trap a lot of cars a lap down. They saw a car up against the wall. I don’t know if they’re really thinking about ‘well who’s on pit road? who’s gonna get screwed by this?’ They don’t have time to really think about that. They just saw a car up at the wall and threw a caution. They knew it wasn’t right in the middle of a green flag cycle.”

Soon after the caution flag flew, Kyle Larson and others found themselves hurt. Their well-calculated pit strategy shattered due to Busch’s faltering car. But Busch’s debatable caution wasn’t the only talking point from Richmond.

With two laps to go Denny Hamlin was third when a caution came out after a half-spin by Kyle Larson off Bubba Wallace’s bumper. Hamlin supposedly jumped the restart zone and secured his second win of the season. His jumped start stirred some controversy, yet the JGR driver explained why he was not to blame.

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Hamlin attributes his rushed tactics to Logano

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Denny Hamlin stirred up quite the controversy by hurrying toward the lead after the final caution. But according to him, he had no other choice if snatching the trophy was the goal. Recently he said all he did then was to check in his rear-view mirror. “Then I’m looking in the mirror to see, ‘OK, how close is the car behind me?’ And clearly Joey (Logano) is laying back”.

Then Hamlin showed why the Team Penske driver fueled his rushed endeavors. “Now, at that point, I’m thinking in my head, ‘I’m not going to let him roll to me, and then as soon as the gap closes take off because then he’s got an advantage.’ He’s going to be pushing me, he’s going to pull out of line. He dictated the restart, not me.”

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Denny Hamlin is definitely on fire this season with an excellent pit team and car while Kyle Busch, seems to be on the other end of the spectrum, although his time may come soon.

Kyle Busch Refuses to Call Out Richard Childress & Co. Despite “Big Swings” Failing to Make a Dent at Richmond

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Written by:

Sumedha Mukherjee

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Sumedha Mukherjee is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports who is known for her in-depth track analysis as well as her lifestyle coverage of Cup drivers like Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick. Inspired by the Kiwi's journey so far, Sumedha has also written pieces on Shane Van Gisbergen, predicting how the Supercars Champion would do in the new and unfamiliar American setting. Pairing her research skills with her vast experience as a writer, Sumedha creates stories her readers can easily get lost in.
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Edited by:

Shreya Singh