NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick said Thursday he accepts NASCAR’s decision to suspend driver Chase Elliott for one race, yet he didn’t stop with that admission.
The owner of Elliott’s No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet said he understands drivers getting frustrated by rough driving, adding, “our guys have the right to retaliate.”
NASCAR suspended Elliott for last weekend’s race after an incident in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where Elliott retaliated for an earlier on-track scuffle by intentionally wrecking Denny Hamlin.
“I think you have to accept it if you did it. But when you get roughed up and you get roughed up by the same person all the time or multiple times in a race, the frustration sets in and you just … you’ve ruined my day, I’m gonna ruin your day,” Hendrick said Thursday (via NASCAR.com). “And I think NASCAR is gonna calm that down, but until something was done, they were going to keep on doing it.
“So I don’t like it, but I feel like our guys have the right to retaliate, but we’ve got to now not wreck the guy.”
Elliott’s move against Hamlin, in which he clearly turned him into the wall, earned the wrath of many NASCAR fans. The reaction would have been more severe, save for the fact Elliott is one of the most popular NASCAR drivers, while Hamlin is at the other end of the spectrum.
Hendrick said he thinks there’s a better way to handle such disagreements.
“I’d rather after the race confront them and ask them what the deal is,” Hendrick said. “But our sport’s been about pushing and shoving. It’s a fine line when you get over that. If somebody pushes and shoves you and puts you out of the race, then what are you going to do?”