Chase Elliott was noticeably absent from Sunday’s race because NASCAR suspended him last week for intentionally hitting Denny Hamlin.
According to NASCAR CEO Steve Phelps, Elliott is one of the sport’s most prominent and rising stars; however, the suspension was necessary.
Phelps said that although he hated to do it, it was the right call to make.
Despite Elliott’s popularity, the call had to be made especially after what happened last October between Bubba Wallace and Kyle Larson, which led to Wallace being suspended.
“It would be difficult to have a conversation with Denny or Bubba or someone else and say, ‘Hey, it was not OK for Bubba to do it, and it’s OK for Chase to do it,” Phelps said.
“We hate it, but it’s a call we needed to make,” he said.
Phelps left many people puzzled by his last remark, where it sounded like he didn’t want to punish Elliott at all, as if he was forced to.
So if I’m reading this right, Phelps really didn’t want to suspend Elliott. I’m assuming they didn’t want the backlash.
— Kevin Hebb (@hebbykr) June 4, 2023
I bet they didn’t hate having to suspend bubba. They hate suspending Elliott because he’s their golden boy. Had it not been for a precedent being set with the bubba Larson Incident last year, chase would’ve never been suspended
— Nate (@nascarnate48) June 4, 2023
But NASCAR rules clearly state if a driver hits another driver on purpose and causes an accident, that is cause for suspension, which happened in both cases.
Hendrick Motorsports driver William Bryon says he is happy that NASCAR was consistent with their punishment.
“I’m just glad that NASCAR is consistent,” Byron said Sunday. “I think that we’ve seen it in the past, and it’s a little bit different circumstances but similar. So I think just being consistent is good, and I hope I’m never in those positions to have to encounter that or be on the losing end of it.”