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Kyle Larson Slams Denny Hamlin for Fencing Him at Pocono: ‘I’m Pissed!’
Denny Hamlin’s contentious move helped power him to his seventh win at the Tricky Triangle, the most in NASCAR Cup Series history.
By default, human beings are complex creatures. Sometimes it’s difficult to read people’s emotions. Other times, not so much. Decoding the rage coursing through Kyle Larson in his post-race interview at Pocono Raceway is one of those easier times.
The Hendrick Motorsports wheelman was not a happy camper after the HighPoint.com 400 this past weekend and, with his sights locked onto a very familiar target, the NASCAR 2021 Cup Series winner held nothing back as he unleashed a furious diatribe on Denny Hamlin for sending him high into the wall of the fabled Tricky Triangle.
“It’s just unfortunate,” fumed Larson to Kim Coon of NBC Sports moments after the race. “I’ve been cost a lot of good finishes by him throughout my career, and I know he says I race a certain way, but I don’t think I’ve ever had to apologize to him about anything. So, not that I’m sure he’s going to say sorry after this, but it is what it is.
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After a late-race restart with seven laps to go, Larson and Hamlin were neck and neck, jockeying for the lead as they whipped around Turn 1. With inside position, Hamlin nosed up close to Larson, causing the Elk Grove, California native to lose control before hitting the outside wall.
When asked about how this will affect their friendship, the 30-year-old Larson skewered his pal with a couple “friendly” jabs of his own.
“Yeah, we’re friends,” chuckled Larson. “Yes, this makes things sh---y and awkward, but whatever. He’s always right. All the buddies know Denny’s always right, so I’m sure he was in the right there as well. It is what it is. I’m not going to let it tarnish a friendship on track, but I am pissed, and I feel like I should be pissed. I’m sure… Tune in to [Denny Hamlin’s podcast] Actions Detrimental – he’ll have a long clip about it.”
The driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro left nothing to question about how this incident changes how he’ll race against his buddy Hamlin in the future.
“I think at this point I have to, right?” said Larson. “Like I said, I’ve never had to apologize to him about anything, anything I’ve done on the race track. I can count four or five times where he’s had to reach out to me like, ‘Oh man, sorry to put you in a bad spot there’ or whatever. So, eventually, like he says, you gotta start racing people a certain way to get the respect back.”
“He pulled the same move on Ross [Chastain] last year, which Ross probably deserved it with all the stuff he’s done to Denny [Hamlin] in his career,” continued Larson. “Again, I haven’t done that to Denny, so I don’t think I deserve to be run into before I ever got to the wall… I’m going to forget about it here in a few hours, and that’s the best medicine for a tough result.”
One man’s pain truly is another man’s pleasure as Hamlin would go on to score his seventh win at Pocono. The triumph also crowns him the overall record holder for victories at the Pennsylvania-based track – one better than Hall of Fame driver Jeff Gordon who Hamlin originally passed last year, but that win was erased due to an aerodynamic violation, according to USA Today.
With two sides to every story, Hamlin said he did nothing wrong.
“I’m not here to defend anything,” stated Hamlin, according to USA Today. “How can you wreck someone you don’t touch? Damn, man, we’re all racing for a win, and I guarantee you, roles reversed, it goes the same way.”
He may not have thought he did anything wrong but, judging by the sheer amplitude of the angry fans booing him after the race, that argument might not stand the test of time.
“I love it,” Hamlin joked, referring to the crowd’s boos. “They can boo my rock out of here in a few years.”
Next up for the two frenemies is the Cook Out 400 at Richmond Raceway. While we all know Kyle Larson isn’t the most retaliation-prone driver in the NASCAR Cup Series, Hamlin might recall that Yung Money scored his first win of the season in Richmond back in April. If Larson can gear up for a repeat performance at the Virginia-based track, that’ll be the sweetest payback one could ever ask for.