Chesterfield native Denny Hamlin won his 50th career NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday at Pocono Raceway, but also rankled one of his top rivals heading into Sunday’s Cook Out 400 at Richmond Raceway.
Tensions between Hamlin and 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson are at an all-time high as the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Richmond, where Larson took the checkered flag in April. This comes after yesterday’s restart with seven laps left when Hamlin squeezed Larson into Pocono’s Turn 1 wall and effectively ended Larson’s chance at a win. Meanwhile, Hamlin captured his seventh win at Pocono Raceway.
Larson, along with many fans at the track, were evidently displeased with the outcome.
“Just unfortunate,” Larson said. “I've been cost a lot of good finishes by him throughout my career. I know he says I race a certain way. I don't think I've ever had to apologize to him about anything. Not that he's going to say sorry after this. It is what it is.”
This is the second time in 2023 that contact with Hamlin has cost Larson a win. The first incident occurred in May at Kansas Speedway. It is also worth noting that both drivers are good friends off the track, to which Larson believes this make things “awkward.”
“Whatever, just move on and try to go to Richmond, where we won earlier this year,” he said.
On the flip side, Hamlin and his No. 11 car were met with a sea of boos from the crowd when asked about his contact with Larson and an earlier incident with Alex Bowman.
Hamlin said, “Both guys wrecked themselves. There was a lane. He missed the corner first and evidently didn’t have his right-side tires clean and when he gassed up and got going again, you have an option in those positions to either hold it wide open and hit the fence or lift and race it out. Those choices were made. I didn’t hit either one of them. Didn’t touch them.”
Hamlin later doubled down on his stance in the post-race press conference claiming, “He’s ran me off a bunch of road courses and called me and said sorry. I said, I’m going to stand my ground next time. I’m not here to defend anything.”
He will ultimately look to capitalize off his win at Pocono and transfer it to his home track of Richmond Raceway, where he has found Victory Lane four times before. Fans can secure their tickets now at www.richmondraceway.com to see how this rivalry will play out in Sunday’s Cook Out 400, which begins at 3 p.m.
Richmond Raceway PR