Denny Hamlin Roughs Up Austin Dillon To Win Lakes Region 200 At New Hampshire Motor Speedwayby Hunter Thomas July 18, 2015 0 comments
Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images
LOUDON, N.H. – In the final laps of Saturday’s Lakes Region 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Denny Hamlin moved Austin Dillon up the track and went on to win his second NASCAR XFINITY Series race of the season.
Throughout the afternoon, Denny Hamlin in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Sun Energy 1 Toyota Camry led 145 laps, most of any driver on Saturday, but it certainly wasn’t a smooth ride. The struggle started on lap 23 when Hamlin spun in Turn 1 while battling his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch for the lead on a restart. Crew chiefs for the two drivers made gutsy calls on pit road to get them back up front, but later on, the two drivers would come in contact again, this time, with Hamlin prevailing and Busch losing ground.
“I was on the bottom and I thought I would drive it in deep enough to where I could go ahead and clear those guys, but they drove in just as deep as I did and obviously I didn’t have any air and I washed up into them,” Hamlin said. “I didn’t spin anyone out or anything, I wrecked myself in one of them and that’s just hard racing. You have to go for a win here.”
Teammates tend to forgive each other much quicker than a competitor from another organization does. When Hamlin made the race winning pass on Austin Dillon in Turn 3 with 22 laps to go, Dillon wasn’t very pleased to say the least. Hamlin who was underneath Dillon slid up the track and moved him out of the way for the race lead, which ended up being the race winning move.
“It’s disappointing because I had a good restart and cleared him off of (Turn) 2,” Dillon said. “I missed one corner, and I’ll take the blame for that, I got a little tight. The car was just a little chattery tight there. He got to me. I figured he was going to race, but he never even wanted to. He wrecked his teammate and then proceeded to try and wreck me, and if I would have gotten back to him, that would have happened to him.”
Denny Hamlin says that he didn’t try to move Dillon up the track on purpose and that the contact was a product of short track racing. However, Hamlin wasn’t too pleased with the way Dillon handled the final restart of the race when the field went back to green with 22 laps to go, just a few corners before the contact. He thinks Dillon jumped the restart.
“I did feel like he (Austin Dillon) left early,” Hamlin said. “I was the control car and I was going to wait – I typically start early in the box more restarts and I was going to wait until late in the box, but he took off right in the middle of the box and short of just stacking the field up and not going, I didn’t want to wreck everybody behind me so I just took off and conceded that he was just going to jump the start and really nothing was going to be done about it.”
As for Austin Dillon’s view of the final restart, he believes that he was in the right because of his position within the restart box. With the race being near its closure, Dillon didn’t want to spin the tires and have Hamlin get away from him in the closing laps.
“He was laying back, and the rule is when you get to those two red marks and the other red mark, you go,” Dillon said. “He tried to lay back the first start, and I spun the tires, so I wasn’t going to let that happen again. I went, and cleared him off of (Turn) 2. We were dead even going into (Turn) 1, so I don’t know what his problem was.”
Austin Dillon went on to say, “What is racing if you can’t race side-by-side for more than a corner? He never even went through a corner with me, the whole race. He didn’t want to. He just moved me. Missed the corner. Wrecked me. I’m fine with racing rough. I promise you, I can do it to anybody, but if we’re going to race like that, I need to know it before you get into the first corner. Give me a corner at least.”
Over the years, Dillon and Hamlin have had their differences. No too long ago, the two drivers got together at Texas Motor Speedway during a NASCAR XFINITY Series event, and they had words afterwards. Dillon recalled that event following Saturday’s finish at New Hampshire Speedway, and he went on to say that for the most part, he was able to keep his cool and act with class.
“I’ve reworked a relationship with Denny,” Dillon said. “He called me a spoiled rich kid in Texas two years ago, and I ate it. He said just the last name, and I said my last name is Dillon, not Childress, but he is my grandfather. I’ll always act with class. Everybody in the media knows that. I’ve worked my way here just like anybody else, and with Denny acting like that, what does he want me to call him? I don’t do that. I know how to act.”
While Denny Hamlin celebrated in Victory Lane, Austin Dillon did manage to cross the finish line in the second position after holding off Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Daniel Suarez who rounded out the top-five.
Now that this weekend’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race is in the books, it’s on to Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event. Whether the refueled tension will boil over to Sunday’s race or another event later this season, only time will tell, but one thing is certain, it’ll be interesting when the two drivers run side-by-side for the remaining races this season.