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Ryan Blaney Says "Hack" Dig at Denny Hamlin Was Half Joking

Team Penske’s driver of the No. 12 Ford originally skewered the veteran wheelman for nearly cleaning him out multiple times at Homestead-Miami.   

By Andrew Woodin
Split of Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin

After a second-place finish at Homestead-Miami Sunday that could've been a first, Ryan Blaney had some choice words for fellow NASCAR star Denny Hamlin. But after a few days to chew it over, Blaney says he was joking, at least a little bit.

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Let's revisit the incident: with 38 laps to go in the 4EVER 400, Blaney and Hamlin were leading the field and jockeying for position. Hamlin, on the inside, tried to push Blaney up toward the wall, and in the process Christopher Bell was able to pass both to take the lead, and eventually win the race. 

Afterward, Blaney blasted Hamlin for the aggressive tactics.

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“He tried to slide me two or three times and failed miserably and then just decided to use me up,” an irked Blaney said. “So, what did he say? Hack? I think he was that today.”

On Wednesday, however, Blaney sought to downplay the drama.

“I feel like that got blown out of proportion, personally,” Blaney told FOX Sports. “It was a half joke anyway. Hey, it’s intense stuff, and he and I were racing hard. I probably said stuff on the radio, kinda in the moment stuff, but at the end of the day, we were racing hard.”

“Did I feel a little crowded?” continued the 29-year-old from Ohio. “Yeah, but when you look at it, it’s just two guys running real hard, and hey, you guys have been saying for a while that I’m too nice, and I did say a couple years ago that if I start not being as nice, I don’t want to hear about it.”

Hamlin, for his part, isn't buying the "hack" label.

“I took the inside, didn’t get clear of Blaney,” he noted his Actions Detrimental podcast on Wednesday. “We went through [Turns] one and two really tight. …We’re doing nothing but just stalling each other out. …We’re just keep adding drag to our cars, and that’s dumping air on our spoilers, and we’re going absolutely nowhere.”

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“Me and him were so close to each other, we’re thinking, ‘We’re not lifting until the other person does, and surely whoever goes the deepest is going to end up on the best end of this.’ We’re door to door and, no, people, there was no contact, there was no contact. Blaney will admit that as well, but we were really close to one another, and we just drug each other down. We’re just slowing each other down. … Next thing you know, we’re just grinding on each other, side by side and can’t get clear of one another.”

Speaking specifically to whether his tactics represented a "hack" approach, JGR’s veteran wheelman and Michael Jordan’s partner at 23XI Racing was clear.

“No, it was not,” Hamlin said emphatically on the podcast. “It’s two people racing, by the way, for the final four of a championship battle. It’s just interesting, depending on who’s involved. I don’t understand [when people say,] ‘Why are you racing Blaney so hard?’ What are you talking about? I’m trying to make it to the final four! I don’t quite get it, but some people just don’t make any sense to me.”

Hamlin, who literally must win at Martinsville this weekend to punch his ticket to the Championship 4 race in Phoenix while Blaney is sitting in fourth, 10 points above the cut line, had a very direct message to any of the doubters out there, continuing to blast him on social media .

“Twitter is a bunch of idiots,” joked Hamlin. “It’s never raced a car before, so they don’t know.”