I’m not sure what was crazier—Denny Hamlin crashing out Chase Elliott to momentarily snatch the lead in the last laps of today’s NASCAR Cup playoff race at Martinsville Speedway, or the final restart that resulted in most of the field behind the leaders crashing. Then a fan tried to pick a fight with Hamlin!
Martinsville delivered the insane short track action we always crave, with tons of contact and close racing—especially since the chance to be in NASCAR’s final four playoff-contending drivers is on the line.
Here’s the moment that brought out the race’s eleventh caution and started the chain reaction of crazy off for good:
Hamlin moved Elliott out of the way for the lead by getting into his rear bumper and sending him into the wall. This put the race into overtime, which ended in a giant chain-reaction crash behind the first few cars:
Kyle Busch ultimately won tonight’s race after nudging Hamlin out of his way on the restart, earning him a spot in the coveted final four who’ll race for the season title at the Homestead-Miami season ender.
The race may have been over, but it certainly wasn’t for Elliott and Hamlin. Elliott knew he would have been into the playoffs’ final four in Busch’s place had Hamlin—another contender in the playoffs—not moved him out of the way. Now Elliott sits at the bottom of the playoffs’ “Round of 8" standings, just below Hamlin. Ouch.
So, Elliott voiced his displeasure after the checkered flag by hitting Hamlin’s car.
Hamlin got out and had words with Elliott for the move, although the two didn’t ultimately get into a fight there.
Hamlin was rightfully booed by the crowd, despite the fact that he’s from Virginia, and Martinsville should—in theory—be a home race. If he’s even getting booed there, he done screwed up.
Finally, after the dust had settled on all the cars and the drivers were back at the pits, a fan tried to pick a fight with Denny Hamlin, too. Not Elliott again. Not Elliott’s crew. A fan with pit lane access.