Denny Hamlin had much harsher words for Indianapolis Motor Speedway and NASCAR than he did for Chase Briscoe after Briscoe denied him a win Sunday.
Hamlin assigned them the blame for extensive — and expensive — damage to cars in the Verizon 200 at The Brickyard.
“Imagine the tracks who NET hundreds of millions of dollars a year can’t be held to a higher standard,” Hamlin wrote on Twitter in reply to a comment by Autoweek reporter Matt Weaver about NASCAR seeming to have problems every race. “They cost the race teams millions today. But we will get a we’ll do better next time. This will continue because we never make real changes. It’s always something.”
Imagine the tracks who NET hundreds of millions of dollars a year can’t be held to a higher standard. They cost the race teams millions today. But we will get a we’ll do better next time. This will continue because we never make real changes. It’s always something.
— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) August 16, 2021
The main issue was the curbing in Turns 5 and 6. Cars in the Cup, Xfinity and IndyCar series rolled, bounced and flew off it all weekend. William Byron’s No. 24 car ran over it in Turn 6 on Lap 78 of Sunday’s 82-lap race. The curb hop triggered a violent multicar pileup and red flag.
Byron’s car damaged the curbing enough to force NASCAR and Indy to remove it.
Michael McDowell’s car then hit a piece of the remaining curb in the Turn 6 exit and went sideways on the restart in overtime. That caused another multicar wreck and a second red flag.
“The track was a mess,” Hamlin told reporters after the race (per NBCSports.com). “These cars and curbs and all that stuff just doesn’t go together. We’re trying to force sports car racing into these fans. Although the finish was a crashfest, I’m sure everyone will love it. It’s just stupid. It’s a complete circus at the end of the race. You just roll the dice and hope you don’t get crashed.”
“That curb has been that curb since we redid the racetrack in 2014. We’ve never had any issues with that curb before,” IMS president Doug Boles told Indianapolis television station WTHR. “In fact, even the Xfinity cars last year used that curb, had no problems with it. We had no problems with it at all this weekend until today.” Boles also said that the track and NASCAR will discuss what can be done to make the area better.
Hamlin got crashed by Briscoe while leading in the second overtime. Briscoe drove through the back of Hamlin’s car thinking he was racing for the win. NASCAR, though, had penalized Briscoe moments earlier for taking an illegal shortcut through the grass after being pushed off the course. The penalty took Briscoe out of contention.
AJ Allmendinger inherited the lead and won the race.
Briscoe told Hamlin after the race that he didn’t know at the time he had been penalized. He also said he didn’t spin Hamlin on purpose.
“I can accept (Briscoe’s explanation),” Hamlin said in a postrace interview with NBC. “The roles have been reversed other times. I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve been on the giving end of a mistake. So I get it. To me it’s like a lack of situational awareness where obviously you’re going to have a penalty until you cut the race track.”
Hamlin criticized NASCAR last week for moving the annual Brickyard race from Indy’s iconic oval to the road course, saying a “crown jewel” race had been taken away. Sunday’s race didn’t change his mind.
“I didn’t see any more people here than what we had at the Brickyard 400,” he said, per NBCSports.com. “It certainly ain’t the Brickyard 400. I don’t know. I enjoy the road course. Don’t get me wrong. I think this course is nice. It’s got some good passing zones. If we do anything, come back twice. I hate to give a track an extra date that took us off one of the most prestigious tracks and put us in the parking lot in the infield.”