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‘I went a little early’ Denny Hamlin says of NASCAR Richmond restart but …

He felt he reasonably protected his advantage

NASCAR: Toyota Owners 400
Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

The latest episode of the Actions Detrimental podcast with Denny Hamlin and co-host Jared Allen is out and its eponymous host answered the question everyone wanted to know for the past 15 hours.

Did he jump the restart?

Hamlin: “I went pretty early in the zone. (long pause) What?”
Allen: “I thought you were going to continue your thought.”
Hamlin: It’s a zone. It’s a restart zone. Anyone know what the definition of zone is?”
Allen: “Josh Wise does. He had a couple of good tweets.”

Hamlin joked that Wise must have had an attorney write that for him but that he agreed with all of that. He said that waiting to fire in the restart zone would have given the advantage to Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano and Kyle Larson around him because they are effectively trying to snooker him coming to the green.

“If you fire in a zone that they know you’re going to fire in, they can fire before you. On TV, it will not look like they did. I concede that on TV it looks worse than what it felt like. The reason for that, when I’m restarting the race, I’m not looking at the flagman, or my dash, all I’m looking at is my mirror and the side peripheral. All I’m doing is trying to time (everyone’s) run.

“What speed is the outside line going and I’m looking to see, ‘okay, how close is the car behind me’ and clearly Joey is technically going. If you want to go into technicalities, you should not be laying back. But he laid back enough that I saw him creep back towards me. At that point, in my head, I’m not going to let him roll to me and as soon as the gap closes, he takes off, because he would have the advantage.

“He’s going to be pushing me, he’s going to get out of line. He dictated the restart, not me. Same thing with the 19. He was on my door and I saw him creeping forward and just understand that every mile per hour you start quicker, you’re that many mile per hour faster all the way until we lift, all the way down the frontstretch you have that advantage and I don’t want to give up the advantage of being the leader.”

“At that point, I see the restart zone, and I’m coming off Turn 4 and all I’m doing is looking, mirror, side, mirror side, and you can go to my in car and see my eyes bouncing between the two. I’m mostly looking to the right and the left front fender on the 19 car. At that point, when I see him creep, I start to take off.

I don’t see where I’m at in the zone. I concede that it’s definitely few feet early. But, again, I don’t think it’s ever been a hard line like Josh is talking about. Many a late restarts have been fired really early because, if you wait until you get to the zone, you’ve lost all your advantage to the cars around you because they know where you’re going to go and they slow down and creep it up so they’re running faster when they get to the zone. I was trying to negate the advantage they had on me coming to that last restart.”

Denny Hamlin on 4/1/2024 Actions Detrimental

Truex was pretty mad in real-time, lobbying NASCAR to review the restart, and also believing that his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate washed him up the track into Turn 1.

Hamlin says he texted Truex after the race and that they’re on the same page.

“I asked Truex, I texted him, ‘am I missing something over why you’re so upset,’ and I’ll paraphrase,” he said. “He responded, ‘no we’re all good, I just lost my mind.’ That’s what he said, paraphrasing. ‘I lost my mind for a minute’ and I told him rightfully so because he deserved to win the race.

“It was a bad five minutes for him.”

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