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Opinion: This Was an Incident Chase Elliott Should Have Avoided; And the Punishment Is Insufficient

Written By Gabriel Tsui, Edited By Sean McKean

David Jensen, Getty Images

Chase Elliott could have completely avoided this incident — but he did not. Coming off of turn 4, Denny Hamlin slid high and squeezed Elliot into the wall, leading to a right rear puncture. Chase thought his day was over, and he could have just stopped the car on the side, walked off the track and bad mouthed Denny Hamlin to the media. He could have brought it back to the pits, fixed it and went on to maybe get some more points. However, he chose the worst decision: to retaliate, sending Hamlin spinning into the wall.

This childish decision not only endangered the rest of the field with possible collateral damage, but also put Hamlin and his own health at risk. These next-gen cars are notorious for being poor in absorbing shock, causing multiple injuries to drivers, ie: Kurt Busch. This one little retaliation at the heat of the moment could have sent Denny Hamlin straight to the hospital, but luckily it didn’t.

Elliott is already walking on a thin line after missing six races due to injury. Currently way behind in the regular season standings, Elliott’s chances of making it back to the playoffs with only regular season points is extremely slim. This incident is only going to continue hinder his bid to a playoff spot, and the suspension should serve Elliott a good time to reflect on his actions and start making better choices for himself, the team, and everyone else on the field. While Elliott serves his penalty, Corey Lajoie will replace him in the #9 car for the next race in St Louis.

On the other hand, the race ban in itself is not enough. I have been an advocate for harsher penalties for on-track retaliation, instead of a tiny one race ban. As mentioned above, in times where the car structure is incredibly weak and could not protect a driver, NASCAR should be actively discouraging and punishing these actions. I understand that the organization would want to keep the penalties fair and on par with others, such as the one handed out last year to Bubba Wallace, and I respect that they didn’t play favorites like they usually do.

However, times change, and penalties need to get harsher to prevent it from ever happening again. The penalty handed out to Wallace didn’t stop Elliott from doing the same thing. Hitting the left rear of the car in front during acceleration and high speed does not have a place in the sport, and if a previous penalty couldn’t stop another driver doing the same thing, the penalty is not enough.

To quote myself from the article ‘Opinion: Bubba Wallace should get a heavier punishment’: “It is unbelievable how NASCAR has issued only a one-race ban for a reckless move like this. If wrecking a competitor out of a race only results in a measly one-race ban, then everyone would start wrecking their rivals knowing NASCAR is soft on these penalties.

NASCAR should be harsh on these thoughtless, impetuous moves that have no racing intention, to protect other drivers' well-being.”

Chase Elliott, you’re better than this. Do better.

1 comment

1 Comment

Unknown member
Jul 27, 2023

Well said!

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