Avondale, AZ – Two weeks ago at Martinsville, Denny Hamlin crashed Chase Elliott on purpose with three laps left in the race. They were 1-2 at the time and it was deliberate from Hamlin to knock Elliott out of the lead in a spot where Elliott was three laps away from his first Cup win and an automatic spot in the Championship 4 at Homestead.
While I knew payback wouldn’t come at Texas, I figured Phoenix was a possibility. Phoenix races like a short track and it’s a perfect spot for payback to happen.
Elliott got it too in a perfect way. In fact, blame Hamlin for this happening too.
First off, Elliott was right behind Hamlin on the track in the closing laps. Hamlin, finished second and first respectively in the first two stages and score 19 stage points. Brad Keselowski had zero stage points on Sunday. With a 19 point gap between the two heading into Sunday, it was now tied. Hamlin, had a far superior car to Keselowski and could have walked easily to Homestead.
But, as Elliott was behind him with a little more than 40 to go, Hamlin for some reason kept trying to hold him off. That’s his own fault. Hamlin, should have let him by. I don’t know why he was trying to keep Elliott behind him so bad.
All Hamlin had to do was finish in the top five at this point. Let Elliott by and don’t worry about it. Instead, Elliott bumped Hamlin multiple times warning him that he’s there. Finally, patience ran out and Elliott ran Hamlin high exiting Turn 4. He didn’t put him in the wall, but made him get into it on his own.
Hamlin, then had a tire run. Again, his own fault on that. With 37 laps left, Hamlin’s tire blew and sent him into the wall and eliminating his playoff hopes.
Hamlin led 193 laps but wouldn’t finish.