CONCORD, N.C. — Denny Hamlin’s hopes of claiming back-to-back Coca-Cola 600 victories came to a screeching halt on lap 186 of the 64th running of the race.
As the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing driver exited turn four, he squeezed Chase Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet against the outside wall as the pair ran side-by-side down the straightaway.
Hamlin then drifted slightly down the race track, providing Elliott room to adjust. A mere two seconds later, the Hendrick Motorsports driver hooked the right rear of Hamlin’s Toyota, causing the No. 11 machine to collide into the outside wall.
Hamlin spun across the track and came to rest in the infield.
“Right rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. I don’t care. It is the same thing that Bubba Wallace did with Kyle Larson. Exact same,” Hamlin commented.
The JGR driver was referencing an incident that took place between 23XI Racing’s Wallace and Hendrick Motorsports’ Larson at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last October. After Larson made an aggressive move past the No. 23, Wallace retaliated by hitting the right rear of No. 5, causing Larson to spin and crash against the outside wall.
The two drivers then had a face-to-face dispute on the infield grass. Wallace was then dealt a one-race suspension for intentionally wrecking Larson.
As for Elliott’s nudge during Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, Hamlin had a few choice words to say.
“It’s a tantrum and he shouldn’t be racing next week,” said Hamlin, who led 20 laps during stage one of the Coca-Cola 600. “He shouldn’t be racing.”
Meanwhile, the No. 9 driver claimed the Chevrolet was hard to control once Hamlin ran him into the fence. Elliott led a total of six laps earlier in the race.
“Once you tear the right sides off these things, it’s kind of over,” Elliott said in his interview on FOX. “Just trying to get to mile 600 to have a shot, but failed to do that again.”
The Hendrick Motorsports driver did not survive past the halfway point of the 400-lapper last year either.