Chase Briscoe said it wasn’t intentional, and Denny Hamlin doesn’t believe it was malicious, but their contact in overtime on the Indianapolis road course led to a discussion afterward.
Briscoe spun Hamlin from the race lead off Turn 9 with two laps to go. Making matters worse, Briscoe had cut the course in Turn 1 on the overtime restart and was under penalty, therefore not in contention for the race win. But not knowing that, the Stewart-Haas Racing rookie ran Hamlin hard and thought he had a shot at his first career Cup Series win.
“I was kind of all over him (Hamlin) in the esses, and when I went to go underneath him, I just clipped him in the right rear,” Briscoe said. “He was already trying to get back to the left, so it just turned him right around. It is unfortunate for them. They were probably going to win the race if the 16 [AJ Allmendinger] didn’t get to him.
“For us, we got a penalty, and I don’t even know where we finished. It is frustrating to be that close. You can taste it and imagine what it would be like, and then it gets taken away. I have a lot to be proud of. I feel like I showed that I belong here, and I will get another chance next year.”
[email protected] spins after contact with @ChaseBriscoe_14! pic.twitter.com/ogaOETTy80
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) August 15, 2021
Briscoe, who ultimately finished 26th, confessed he’s never intentionally wrecked another driver in his racing career. He understood why Hamlin was upset, and Briscoe acknowledged he would have been too if the roles were reversed.
The chaotic finish occurred in the second overtime restart of the inaugural Verizon 200 at the Brickyard. Hamlin restarted on the inside lane going into Turn 1 with Briscoe to the outside. Both drivers drove hard into the corner, and Allmendinger stuck his nose into the fight, but it was Briscoe who went through the grass and came back on track at the exit of Turn 2.
“I knew I was going to go through the grass,” Briscoe said. “It was just a matter of do you go through it slow or gas it wide-open and hope you get through it. I don’t know if there would have been a penalty if I had gone through it slow, but that was my only chance to win the race at that point.
“I went for that and stayed on (Hamlin) tight and knew (Allmendinger) was right behind me. He was on newer tires. A lot of guys were getting lazy through that turn and would just swing it out wide and leave the bottom wide open.”
Hamlin walked down pit road to talk to Briscoe, who was standing by his car for interviews. The two calmly spoke at length.
“At first, I didn’t know if I was getting anywhere,” Briscoe said. “Once I explained to him that I didn’t even know I had a penalty until I got to Turn 10. If I knew I had a penalty, there was no need for me to even try to pass him for the win. If I would have known that earlier, I would have done my stop and go and went on.
“As I understood it, at that moment in time, I could still win the race, and I was going for it and got into him accidentally. I think at the end, he kind of started to understand. He has been there when you are trying to get your first win, and especially in our playoff situation; you have to do what you have to do. That is what I get paid to do, and that is what I was trying to do.”
Hamlin thought it should be evident that there would be a penalty for cutting the course. Something he told Briscoe during their discussion.
“Lack of awareness,” said Hamlin, who finished 23rd. “And then I just said, ‘race me for a lap.’ He ran right in the back of me. We can’t race that way. I don’t think he did it malicious. I’ve raced with him for a year now, he’s not that kind of person, but it was just bad judgment.”
Although Hamlin lost the regular-season point lead and remains winless, his Joe Gibbs Racing team clinched their playoff spot.