NASCAR Cup Series
Chase Elliott suspended by NASCAR for wrecking Denny Hamlin
NASCAR Cup Series

Chase Elliott suspended by NASCAR for wrecking Denny Hamlin

Updated May. 30, 2023 7:01 p.m. ET

NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott for one race for intentionally wrecking Denny Hamlin at high speed Monday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Elliott, the sport's most popular driver who already missed six races earlier this year because of a broken leg suffered in a snowboarding accident, will miss this weekend's race at World Wide Technology Raceway, commonly known as Gateway, in Madison, Ill.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver likely will get a waiver to remain playoff eligible despite missing a race because of the suspension — NASCAR has granted them in the past but won't make a decision until HMS formally requests one. But there will be only 11 regular-season races remaining when he returns for the June 11 event at Sonoma Raceway. He either needs to win one of those 11 races or earn one of the spots (if any) available on points — he sits 81 points behind the current playoff cutoff and will drop further behind by missing Gateway.

Spire Motorsports driver Corey LaJoie, who is 20th in the Cup standings, will replace Elliott at Gateway. Carson Hocevar, who has driven for Spire in the Xfinity Series and is a full-time driver in the truck series, will fill in for LaJoie in the Cup car for Spire.


"We understand NASCAR’s need to maintain consistency in its officiating," Hendrick Motorsports said in a statement. "The penalty will not be appealed, and we will submit a formal request for a playoff waiver."

The one-race suspension was the same as NASCAR issued last year to 23XI Racing driver Bubba Wallace for wrecking Kyle Larson at Las Vegas. The incidents were relatively similar — using the left front of the car to contact the other driver's right rear, hooking them in a way that their car turns and hits the wall at high speed.

During the second stage Monday of the Coca-Cola 600, Hamlin squeezed Elliott into the wall as they battled for position. Elliott collected his car and then appeared to intentionally turn left into the rear of Hamlin's car.

Elliott said he couldn't control his car after it was damaged from hitting the wall. 

"Once you hit the wall in these things, you can't drive them anymore," he said when asked if his move was retaliatory. "So no, just unfortunate circumstances."

Drivers know that they could face penalty for intentionally wrecking, so they rarely admit it, especially when it results in hard contact. Both Hamlin and Elliott had too much damage to continue.

Hamlin, who is co-owner of 23XI Racing while a driver for Joe Gibbs Racing, supported the one-race suspension to Wallace last year and advocated for Elliott to receive the same fate.

"It's a tantrum and he shouldn't be racing next week," Hamlin said. "Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. ... It is the same thing that Bubba Wallace did with Kyle Larson. Exact same."

NASCAR took swift action, issuing the penalty less than 24 hours after the race was completed. Senior Vice President Elton Sawyer, speaking on FS1 during NASCAR Race Hub, said NASCAR took a "deep dive" into data, in-car camera footage and radio communications surrounding the incident and determined Elliott made the move on purpose.

"We landed on the fact that this was an act that definitely — in our view and with the resources and the data we collected — was intentional," Sawyer said. "And as we have proven in the past, to be consistent, hooking someone in the right rear and turning them head-on into the fence is just not something we can tolerate.

 "And we won’t going forward."

Sawyer indicated it was a decision that wasn’t up for much debate.

"We feel like this was the only decision that we could make," Sawyer said. "We have to let our drivers and our competitors ... retaliating in that manner is not going to be acceptable."

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.

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