Denny Hamlin Doesn’t Hold Back and Takes Direct Aim at NASCAR and Its ‘Show’
Chaos. That’s the word that accurately depicts what happened late Friday night in Phoenix at the end of the NASCAR Truck Series Championship 4 race. Four started with hopes of winning a title. One won. And countless folks — drivers and fans — were unhappy with the end product.
Unfortunately, after the race, the new champion, Ben Rhodes, wasn’t the main topic — although he did deliver another alcohol-inspired classic press conference. How he ended up winning it was. Denny Hamlin was among multiple Cup Series drivers who weighed in on the chaotic finish, and he didn’t hold back.
NASCAR Truck Series chaos in final stage
Corey Heim was undoubtedly the best truck in Phoenix. Starting from the pole, the Tricon Garage driver finished second in Stage 1 and won Stage 2. Stage 3 didn’t appear to be any different.
After dropping back into the field due to a pit strategy call, the No. 11 truck steadily made its way forward in pursuit of leading title contender and notoriously aggressive driver Carson Hocevar. Once he cleared the No. 42 truck with 32 laps remaining, he appeared destined for the Truck Series championship.
However, Hocevar changed it all on the next lap when he got into the left rear of the No. 11 truck going into Turn 1 and sent it for a spin, effectively ending Heim’s hopes of winning the title. But they weren’t done.
With three laps remaining, Heim got his payback when the Niece Motorsports truck tried to pass on his outside, and he ran him into the wall.
NASCAR did nothing about what was clear retaliation.
Unfortunately, that conflict was just one part of an ugly two-part finish to the race. After the second Heim-Hocevar incident, there were a staggering five additional cautions involving a dozen drivers, including Rhodes and last year’s champion, Zane Smith. Furthermore, there were a NASCAR championship race-record four overtimes.
Denny Hamlin takes shot at NASCAR
After the race, numerous Cup Series drivers took to X (formerly Twitter) to share their thoughts about what they had just witnessed. Unsurprisingly, none of them were good.
“This dumbass will never learn,” a typically reserved Tyler Reddick said of Hocevar’s move.
“What a pitiful lack of sportsmanship,” Chris Buescher said of the ugly ending and conflict between the two truckers.
Reddick’s boss, 23XI Racing co-owner Denny Hamlin, had some harsh words of his own for the overall situation.
“This is what happens when there’s no rules, no officiating,” Hamlin said. “You get a product like this. ‘The show’ has taken over US Motorsports and why it’s hard to take seriously.”
President Steve Phelps addresses state of NASCAR
What makes the chaotic finish even more interesting is it happened just hours after NASCAR’s State of the Sport address, delivered earlier in the day by President Steve Phelps and Chief Operating Officer Steve O’Donnell, where racing quality and the playoffs were discussed.
“I think we’ve got the best racing in the world, and I think it’s the most competitive racing in the world,” Phelps said. “I’ve heard some things, there were people like, ‘Hey, listen, this is gimmicky.’ It’s not. It’s an incredible, incredible playoff system that rewards the best drivers in our sport.”
You’d be hard-pressed to find many who would agree with those remarks after the chaotic Truck Series championship.