As he pushed up the track, Byron got into the outside wall. Later, when a cut tire sent Truex spinning, Byron ran into the back of a slowing Hamlin.
The No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota spun through the grass and lost several positions. He then harassed Byron under caution, bumping the rear of his car. The No. 11 team wanted to see Byron penalized for the incident, but NASCAR took no action. However, NASCAR later said they initially missed the contact under yellow, and that a penalty may still be coming later this week.
Hamlin promised over the radio to give Byron the penalty himself, implying that he would move or wreck the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet if he got back to him. However, he never really got the chance. Post-race, both drivers gave their takes on the incident.
“Yeah, he ran me out of room,” said Byron. “The toe link. We’re lucky we finished. It was really, really hard contact. It wasn’t like just a light contact or anything like that. Yeah, I didn’t mean to obviously spin him out over there. Obviously I’m pissed off, just not going to get run like that. We’ve always raced so well together. I don’t know what it was all about. The No. 19 (Truex) took his air away, he ran out of racetrack, so he chose to run me out of racetrack completely.
“Again, look, it’s not like it was just contact. I thought we were going to be done.”
Byron then admitted that the bump under yellow-flag conditions was intentional, but held firm that there was no intent to actually spin Hamlin.
“I mean, obviously, yeah, I went to go show my displeasure,” he explained. “I didn’t mean to hit him and spin him out. There’s a ton of guys that do this and go do something like that. I see it all the time. I’m just not going to get run like that. There’s really no reason. We’re running second and third I think. Had a shot to win. Killed our car, for sure. That was a bummer.”
Byron concluded that they will “probably talk” but also felt like “we handled it” on the track.
Hamlin hints at future retaliation
Hamlin, naturally, had a different opinion on what transpired. “I guess we can just wreck each other under caution,” he said. “I tried to wreck him back. Yeah, I don’t think we touched. I got to look. I don’t think we touched. Obviously he sent us into the infield under caution.”
After hearing Byron’s comments, he added: “ I mean, you know, I keep hearing these guys. I’ll just add it to the list of guys when I get a chance. They’re going to get it.”
He continued, echoing some comments he made about Ross Chastain earlier in the season: “It all just works itself out. We’ll be racing each other at some point. He’ll lose a lot of spots because he’s racing me. This is hard racing, obviously. I’m fine with hard racing.
“But wrecking me under caution is obviously not what we were bargaining for. So thanks to my FedEx Toyota team for bouncing back. Obviously it cost us all of our track position. I thought we were in a great position to win until we got sent back to 20 something there.”