Denny Hamlin laments Chase Briscoe's "lack of awareness"

A bizarre inaugural NASCAR Cup race on the Indy Road Course ended with Denny Hamlin looking for his first win of the season and Chase Briscoe looking for the first of his career.

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It didn’t end well for either.

Entering Turn 1 of the second overtime, Hamlin led the way and Briscoe, who lined up second on the final restart, made it to the outside of Hamlin in attempt to pass for the lead.

Instead, Briscoe ran off the course, cut across the grass and reemerged on the track entering Turn 3 and briefly ahead of Hamlin.

NASCAR immediately assessed Briscoe a ‘stop-and-go’ penalty, which would take him out of the hunt for the win. Briscoe, however, remained on the track racing Hamlin for the lead.

Briscoe hit Hamlin in the right-rear and spun him out, ending his chance at victory. A.J. Allmendinger, who was running third at the time, inherited the lead and went on to win the race.

Briscoe was credited with a 26th-place finish, one lap down, following his penalty.

Post-race conversation

The two drivers met on pit road after the race for a lengthy, but civil, discussion of the incident.

“I got hit by (Allmendinger) going into the (Turn 1) corner. He shoved me out. Then I shoved him to the right and then (Briscoe) cut the track and took the lead for a second there,” Hamlin said. “I thought we were probably in good shape there, but this just turns everything upside down.”

Asked if he accepted Briscoe’s explanation of events, Hamlin said, “I agree it’s not on purpose, but my team told me that he had a penalty right away and to me, it’s obvious. If you cut the race track and end up in the lead, you’re going to have a penalty.

“Lack of awareness. Race me for a lap. He went right in the back of me. We can’t race that way. I don’t think he did it malicious. I’ve raced with him for a year now. He’s not that kind of person, just bad judgement.”

Briscoe said he was not immediately informed by his team that he had received a penalty for cutting the course and that was why he continued racing.

“If I knew I had a penalty, there was no need for me to even try to pass him for the win. If I would have known that earlier, I would have done my ‘stop and go’ and went on,” he said. “As I understood it, at that moment in time I could still win the race and I was going for it and got into him accidentally.

“I think at the end he kind of started to understand. He has been there when you are trying to get your first win and especially in our playoff situation, you have to do what you have to do. That is what I get paid to do and that is what I was trying to do.”

Hamlin and Kyle Larson had entered the race tied for the regular season points lead. The regular season champion earns a 15-playoff point, which can be critical for Hamlin since he hasn’t won a race this season.

Instead, with Larson’s third-place finish and Hamlin’s 23rd-place effort, Larson now leads the standings by 22 points over Hamlin with two races – Michigan and Daytona – remaining before the playoffs.

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