Denny Hamlin Mar 4, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin (11) during qualifying at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Denny Hamlin, who pulled off a thrilling pass on the final lap to win Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway, almost got overshadowed by something that happened minutes afterward.

As Hamlin celebrated his 49th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, fellow Cup competitors Ross Chastain and Noah Gragson traded punches on pit road.

Cooler heads quickly prevailed and separated the two drivers, but not before the scene caught everyone by surprise. Kyle Larson, who was being interviewed by FS1 at the time, stopped in the middle of a sentence to stare at the commotion with a bemused look on his face.

Hamlin, however, didn’t see the incident. After going through the obligatory winner’s interview in the media center, Fox Sports NASCAR insider Bob Pockrass called Hamlin over to check out a video of the fight.

Hamlin’s mouth gaped a bit in surprise as the punches flew. He smiled, then told Pockrass, “He told him to stop.”

Underlining the whole moment is Hamlin’s previous history with Chastain, who has earned the wrath of many drivers in the NASCAR garage for his hard-charging style. Hamlin and Chastain have butted heads several times dating to last season.

In February, Chastain spun Hamlin in the Busch Light Clash. Hamlin retaliated, then got fined and docked points, for wrecking Chastain at Phoenix in March.

[Bob Pockrass]

About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.