Published on May 8th, 2008 | by Michael J Smith0
Why Wasn’t Denny Hamlin Penalized?
Yesterday someone asked me why Denny Hamlin wasn’t penalized for bring out the caution. This person felt that by stopping, then immediately going when the caution waved, there was enough evidence to prove that Hamlin’s actions were deliberate. He also threw in the fact that Dale Earnahrdt Jr. and Kurt Busch were both penalized for it, so there was a precedent. (He’s obviously been reading ESPN.com.)
If he had read carefully, in those two cases, both drivers admitted to doing it intentionally. Dale Jr. joked about it after the race, as did Kurt Busch. Hamlin, wisely, kept his lips sealed. If Hamlin said he stopped deliberately to give Kyle Busch a chance to win, NASCAR would have had concrete evidence that it was intentional, and probably would have assessed a further penalty.
That said, and correct me if I am wrong, NASCAR did not park Earnhardt or Busch. In this case, NASCAR held Hamlin for two laps, in essence taking away points (by allowing cars still on the track to pass him). In the other two cases, NASCAR had the make an example that intentionally causing a caution, and then joking about it, would not be tolerated.
Also, in those two instances, someone could have been injured as a direct result of the drivers’ actions. In Hamlin’s case, someone could have been injured, but it would have been because the tire blew. After all, we’ve seen drivers come in with a tire going down only to find out nothing was wrong. So, taking that into consideration, there’s a reasonable doubt that Hamlin wasn’t sure it would blow.