William Byron felt like Denny Hamlin wronged him when he felt like he was squeezed up into the Turn 2 wall late in the stages of Sunday’s AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway. Hamlin didn’t think he made contact with Bryon though.
However, emotions got the better of Byron and as they were coming to the caution with the lights clearly on, Byron pulled up at a high rate of speed and intentionally punted Hamlin off the racetrack and sent his No. 11 Toyota spinning through the infield grass as a result.
Byron didn’t hide the fact that he did that on purpose. He admitted so after the race. However, he says that he didn’t mean to spin him. He just wanted to send a message.
“Yeah, he (Denny Hamlin) ran me out of room,” Byron said of the incident. “The toe link. We’re lucky we finished. It was really, really hard contact. It wasn’t like just a light contact or anything like that. Yeah, I didn’t mean to obviously spin him out over there. Obviously, I’m pissed off — just not going to get run like that.
“We’ve always raced so well together. I don’t know what it was all about. The 19 (Martin Truex Jr.) took his air away, he ran out of racetrack, so he chose to run me out of racetrack completely. Again, look, it’s not like it was just contact. I thought we were going to be done. I went to go show my displeasure. I didn’t mean to hit him and spin him out. There’s a ton of guys that do this and go do something like that. I see it all the time. I’m just not going to get run like that. Yeah, there’s really no reason. We’re running second and third I think. Had a shot to win. Killed our car, for sure. That was a bummer. We’ll probably talk. Look, we’ve never had issues, so I didn’t really get it. … Yeah, it was uncalled for. Feel like we handled it.”
Hamlin said that it wasn’t intentional to what he did in Turn 2 and said that what transpired after was uncalled for and that he’ll take matters in his own hands later.
“I keep hearing these guys. I’ll just add it to the list of guys when I get a chance,” Hamlin said on Byron said that he’s never had a problem with Hamlin in the past. “They’re going to get it. It all just works itself out. We’ll be racing each other at some point. He’ll lose a lot of spots because he’s racing me. This is hard racing, obviously. I’m fine with hard racing. But wrecking me under caution is obviously not what we were bargaining for.”
What got some wondering however is how Hamlin got the brunt of the penalty there because he was running 2nd at the time of the caution and would have to restart outside the top 20 as a result. Byron wasn’t even penalized.
NASCAR admitted after the race that they messed that call up and completely missed it.
“I have to be honest with you. When we were in the tower, we were paying more attention to the actual cause of the caution up there and dispatching our equipment,” said Scott Miller, Senior Vice President of Competition.
“The William Byron-Denny Hamlin thing we had no eyes on. We saw Denny go through the grass. By the time we got to a replay that showed the incident well enough to do anything to it, we had gone back to green.
“I’m not sure that issue is completely resolved as of yet. We’ll be looking at that when we get back to work.”
To make matter worse for Hamlin, Miller says that if they had seen it, they would have likely given him his spot back.
“So if we had seen that good enough to react to it real-time, which we should have, like no excuse there, there would probably have been two courses of action: one would have been to put Hamlin back where he was, and the other would be to have made William start in the back,” he says.
Hamlin was screwed by NASCAR twice at Texas this year. For the All-Star race, Ryan Blaney should have been black flagged for lowering his window net after he thought he took the white flag in May’s annual race. He was going to celebrate his $1-million win.
However, NASCAR threw the caution before he took the white in a trigger that was too quick. It was controversial in a sense but a yellow is a yellow and now Blaney was dealing with a safety issue. He couldn’t get his window net secured back up. He had to hold onto it.
NASCAR didn’t black flag win. He’d win. Hamlin was 2nd.
Now with this, Hamlin would have been given 2nd back on Sunday.
As far as more penalties for Byron from that then?
“We’re going to work through those things,” he noted.
As far as what they can do better next time on?
“Well, so we don’t have the cameras and — the cameras and the monitors that we’ve got, we dedicate them mostly to officiating, seeing our safety vehicles, how to dispatch them, all that,” he says. “By the time we put all those cameras up, we don’t have room for all of the in-car cameras to be monitored.
“If we would have had immediate access to the 24 in-car camera, that would have helped us a lot with being able to find that quickly. That’s definitely one of the things that we’re looking at.”