NASCAR admitted on Monday morning that they’re going to investigate further between the Erik Jones and Denny Hamlin incident, or lack there of, at the end of Sunday’s Xfinity 500 at the Martinsville (VA) Speedway. Jones, was all over Hamlin’s rear bumper of his No. 11 Toyota in the closing laps, but backed off as the race got closer and closer to the finish, which led everyone to create a stir that Jones didn’t abide by the 100-percent rule in the end.
See, everyone thought Jones should have passed Hamlin, which potentially could have led to Hamlin slipping even further back than his 11th position that he finished in, which in turn would have greatly altered the ending of Sunday’s Round of 8 cutoff race.
To me, I’m okay with how this ended and how a no call was made.
I get the team orders aspect of people bitching that Jones was told to stay behind Hamlin in the end. I’m not mad at that one bit. It’s part of racing. Always has been, always will.
Yes, Jones was kicked to the curb by Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota for next season and could have made the move to get by Hamlin in the end, but he didn’t. How do we know that he could have passed him anyways? Can you prove that he didn’t try 100-percent? Do you have the data to prove otherwise?
Also, I hear the argument that why didn’t Aric Almirola or Clint Bowyer give up their positions on track. Well, it’s simple. They were way further ahead of them. Jones and Hamlin were nose to nose on track. Almirola and Bowyer were in a different zip code. If they pit or purposely slowed down, it would have been greatly obvious and not acting in good faith.
Jones’ situation wasn’t like that. It wasn’t like that at all. This isn’t comparable to Michael Waltrip Racing’s fiasco several years ago in Richmond either. So, don’t even compare the two scenarios.
I can still hear the people complaining that if Jones would have just passed Hamlin, then Harvick would have had to make the move on Kyle Busch in the end because he would have been in. But, how do you know that to be true anyways. How do you know that Jones really could have passed Hamlin or that Hamlin would have slipped further back? How do you know any of this?
That’s why I’m okay with the no call. I’m okay with it being as is and would be shocked to see a further penalty levied.
Harvick’s demise was that they didn’t score any stage points. It wasn’t the fact that he and Matt Kenseth made contact on Lap 180. Harvick, wasn’t going to score any stage points anyways. He didn’t in Stage 1 and was not likely going to score any in Stage 2 either. His No. 4 Ford was just off.
That’s not shocking in the sense that he only had two top five finishes in his last 16 Martinsville starts overall. He’s just not good on the .526-mile oval. The Kenseth contact didn’t help, but who’s to say that he was going to finish any higher anyways?
Hamlin and Keselowski had far better cars than Harvick at Martinsville and he missed out on the Championship 4 due to the format, not because Jones didn’t pass Hamlin.