Denny Hamlin critical of NASCAR for delay in throwing caution flag
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin had a rough couple of laps late in Saturday night’s SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway.
Hamlin was caught in the middle of a four-wide battle off Turn 2 and was pinched between Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Sam Hornish Jr. Contact with the left rear of Hornish’s No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford cut Hamlin’s right front tire and caused him to slow dramatically on the track.
With cars racing at full speed under him, Hamlin was unable to make it to pit road initially and had to limp his No. 11 JGR Toyota around for another lap before hitting pit road for four fresh tires.
Once back on track, Hamlin saw his night get worse on Lap 207 when he cut a tire off Turn 4 and slid down the frontstretch before hitting the outside wall.
While Hamlin was able to drive his car to the garage, he was not too pleased with NASCAR’s timing on the caution flag.
Hamlin questioned the fact there was no caution after his initial contact with Earnhardt and Hornish, then wondered why cars were driving by at full speed when he was wrecking on the frontstretch.
"There was no caution there (on the first incident) and then we cut a left rear, blew it off of turn four and spun out, hit the wall at the start finish line. I keep spinning out, I keep hitting the wall and I can’t figure out why everyone is still coming at 200 (miles per hour) and I look and the green light is still on," Hamlin said of NASCAR while standing in the Sprint Cup garage. "They didn’t throw a caution until seven seconds after I wrecked. Luckily nobody hit us. They’ll continue to monitor the situation, I’m guessing is what they’ll say."
This marks the second straight weekend NASCAR has been called out by a competitor about cautions.
Last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, Hamlin’s JGR teammates Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth both questioned NASCAR’s decision not to throw a caution flag when Edwards wrecked on the final lap of the race.
"I had to lift so I didn’t send Carl (Edwards) to the hospital," Kenseth said at Talladega. "I’m just dumbfounded that NASCAR didn’t throw a caution. We were driving past wrecked cars for half a lap at 180 mph — it was a crazy ending."
Edwards echoed Kenseth’s thoughts, adding that drivers need to do a better job of lifting when a wreck occurs and no caution is thrown.
"I was just really frustrated that I could spin out for a quarter mile over there and there are still people going by wide open," Edwards said. "Really, NASCAR does such a great job making these cars safe and these tracks safe that the biggest cause of injury is going to be one of us not checking up when there’s a guy sideways. I mean, I have my door facing the field and the 51 (Justin Allgaier) car I think it was went by at about 160 or 180 mph. That’s just not the way I try to race these guys when there’s a wreck."