Despite a controversial finish to Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series HighPoint.com 400 at Pocono Raceway, Denny Hamlin remained unapologetic as he celebrated his 50th victory in the NASCAR Cup Series, brushing off the sold-out capacity crowd’s boos.
Responding to the fans’ displeasure, he took a playful jab, saying, “I love it. They can boo my rock out here in a few years,” referring to the special feature at Pocono Raceway that honors legendary drivers who have competed at the oval over the years.
Hamlin’s victory marked his seventh win at Pocono, setting a new record for the most wins by any driver at the 2.5-mile triangular oval.
In the 2023 NASCAR season, Denny Hamlin started with a 17th-place finish at the Daytona 500.
He faced controversy when he admitted to intentionally wrecking Chastain during a race, resulting in a points deduction and a fine.
Despite the setback, Hamlin’s illustrious career was celebrated as he was named one of NASCAR’s 75 Greatest Drivers in April.
In the course of the season, he achieved remarkable victories, notably winning at Kansas after a tense battle with Kyle Larson.
Denny Hamlin Controversy: Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series
The controversy arose when Denny Hamlin executed an aggressive move on Kyle Larson in Turn 1 on Lap 154, running Larson out of room.
Similar to a move he made on Ross Chastain in a previous season, Hamlin’s maneuver left Larson with a tough decision that resulted in contact with the fence.
While Hamlin claimed that the incidents with Larson and Alex Bowman on Lap 150 were not his fault, the USA Network replay contradicted his statement, showing clear contact with Larson for the lead in Turn 1.
What are your thoughts on the Denny Hamlin & Kyle Larson incident? pic.twitter.com/LPrSv24OhN
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) July 23, 2023
Hamlin defended himself, asserting that both Larson and Bowman wrecked themselves, emphasizing that they had options to either lift and avoid the crash or push through and risk hitting the fence.
Despite the controversy, Hamlin’s aggressive driving style and his impressive record at Pocono have solidified his position as a formidable force in the NASCAR Cup Series.
While Hamlin firmly believed he was not at fault in the incident with Larson, the driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet ZL1 saw the situation in a completely different light.
With a tone of dejection, Larson expressed his frustration, saying, “Whatever. He’s always right. All the buddies know Denny is always right. I’m sure he was in the right there as well. It is what it is. I’m not going to let it tarnish a friendship on the track, but I am pissed. And I feel like I have every right to be pissed.”