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NASCAR’s Ryan Blaney Rips Denny Hamlin as "Hack" after Homestead-Miami

Despite finishing second, Team Penske’s No. 12 Ford driver was fuming with Joe Gibbs Racing’s veteran wheelman.   

By Andrew Woodin
Ryan Blaney adjusts his ear piece during NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying for the Ambetter Health 400

Ryan Blaney may not have the same name recognition as Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano or Kyle Busch, but just because the mild-mannered Team Penske wheelman of the No. 12 Ford Mustang tends to fly under the radar doesn’t mean he can’t flip a switch to spark a significant postseason run. In 2022, he got hot toward the end, finishing third in Martinsville at the penultimate playoff race and second at the championship in Phoenix. He’s got that extra gear in his bag, but sometimes he needs to remind others he’s not to be trifled with. When that happens, just be sure you’re not on the receiving end of his wrath like Denny Hamlin was this weekend, following the NASCAR Cup Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

After first surviving a rear impact from a slightly out of control Larson – the Hendrick Motorsports driver entered pit road on Lap 214 too fast and blasted through a barrier of sand barrels that ended his day – Blaney would line up on the restart with Hamlin. Michael Jordan’s partner at 23XI Racing outperformed Blaney through the first pair of turns, but a caution would come out to prompt another restart. This time, Hamlin instigated the track battle as he kept pinching inward on Blaney’s left-side door. In a three-wide tango, Hamlin continued to push up into Blaney who was already high, allowing Christopher Bell to surge through the dueling duo for the lead, followed by William Byron.

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In the end, while Blaney got the last laugh after a spontaneous mechanical failure crippled the power steering of Hamlin’s car, sending his compromised No. 11 Toyota Camry careening into the wall, the 29-year-old Blaney was still plenty heated with the veteran and made sure to send JGR’s 51-race winner a clear message.

“He tried to slide me two or three times and failed miserably and then just decided to use me up,” a frustrated Blaney explained after the race. “I mean, if you’re gonna slide somebody, slide somebody and commit. Don’t halfway do it and use me up.”

“So, what did he say?” Blaney asked rhetorically. “Hack? I think he was that today.”

Denny Hamlin climbs into his racecar

Speaking with Bob Pockrass of FOX Sports, Hamlin seemed to justify his risky, late-race maneuver with Blaney.

“Whoever leads the race at such a key moment has got such a big advantage,” he said. “So, I had the bottom I took it on the bottom. If I didn’t get clear like I didn’t off of Turn 2, I knew it was going to be tough to hold it and unfortunately, we just got split there, and that was it. It didn’t matter because we broke anyway.”  

Previous skirmishes with Elliott, Larson and, among others, Ross Chastain have seen Hamlin lean into his self-styled role as the affable villain of the NASCAR Cup Series, but he and Blaney also have a little bit of simmering beef, going back a few years.

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In Phoenix of 2020, when Blaney was the points leader, Hamlin got loose and nicked Brad Keselowski, but Blaney became collateral damage. A year later, Hamlin nearly spun Blaney out at the end of Stage 2 in Martinsville, and Hamlin again made Blaney’s temper flare when he bumped him at Sonoma in 2022.

As it currently sits, though Blaney just came up short in Homestead-Miami, his runner-up finish at the 4EVER 400 Presented by Mobil 1 has completely reversed his fortune. He came into the race in a precarious position, but after Sunday, he now resides in the fourth and final place, 10 points above 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick on the cut line.

Close to punching his ticket to the championship race in Phoenix, Blaney will next tackle the Xfinity 500 in Martinsville, the shortest track on the NASCAR Cup Series and one where he’s traditionally done well. In 15 starts on the 0.526-mile oval, Blaney’s recorded seven top-five finishes to power him to a 9.5 average finish, his best on any track where he’s had three or more starts, according to NASCAR.

Meanwhile, Hamlin’s catastrophe puts him in a dicey, must-win situation for Martinsville. While that always creates a powder keg of pressure to perform, when it comes to Martinsville, Hamlin welcomes it. Come this weekend, Hamlin will seek his sixth victory on the legendary Virginia track.