Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin Spark Simmering NASCAR Feud, Will Embers of 2017 Flicker Into ‘22 Fire?

The feud between popular Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin continues to simmer. Will the latest social media salvos spark the rivalry? Will the NASCAR Cup Series drivers carry their long-standing grudges into 2022?

You can bet on it.

All Elliott has to do is flash back to October 2017.

Chase Elliott vs. Denny Hamlin: A continuing rivalry seeded at Martinsville

Before being voted the premier series’ most popular driver four consecutive years and capturing the first of his 13 career victories, Elliott was a third-year, winless, second-generation driver eying his first Cup checkered flag and, perhaps, professional vindication.

He didn’t get it during the ‘17 fall race at Martinsville Speedway. Not with Hamlin trailing close behind.

After controlling much of the third stage, Elliott lost the lead during a pit stop but fought back to the front, passing Hamlin. Along Turn 1, Elliott defended his position, but Hamlin tapped the leader’s bumper before entering the third turn, causing him to spin out and lose the chance at his maiden win and qualifying for the Championship 4 race.

In the moments after the race, Elliott confronted Hamlin. At a slow speed, Elliott ran into Hamlin. The crowd cheered as Hamlin pulled in front of Elliott and applied the breaks. The worn machines came to a stop, and the combatants climbed out of their cockpits.

No punches were thrown, but a long-simmering feud was born.

Elliott speaks to cheering crowd; Hamlin talks over booing fans

NASCAR Cup Series drivers Denny Hamlin (11) races Chase Elliott (9) during the Championship 4 race at Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 7, 2021, in Avondale, Arizona | Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Standing 15 feet away, Elliott listened intently as Hamlin described his actions to a booing crowd and television audience, reported by racingnews.co.

“I’m not sitting here saying I wrecked him on purpose,” Hamlin told an NBC reporter as his comments echoed throughout the track. “I tried to move him out of the way, and he spun out. He didn’t make the corner because I had his backend jacked up, that’s for sure.

“… It was a mess at the end. I hate it for his team. … I was truing to get a race win.”

Well, Elliott was “truing” for a race win, too. And the Martinsville crowd backed him.

When it was Elliott’s turn, he stepped up, and the crowd started cheering. He said: “… My momma always said, ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’ So, he’s not even worth my time.

“… The funny thing was, he said somebody was pushing him. There wasn’t two car lengths between him and the next guy.

“… I wanted to see the replay. That’s what I thought happened, and that’s what happened. It’s definitely 100 (percent) unnecessary and uncalled for.”

Elliott, Hamlin resond to a NASCAR fan on Twitter, swipe at each other 

The most recent interaction between Elliott and Hamlin may not set off alarms for many NASCAR officials, but the fact the two are responding to a fan’s Twitter account demonstrates they will take any opportunity to get after the other. Hamlin lobbied for Elliott’s popularity streak to end. It proved unsuccessful.

A NASCAR fan posted laps 151-157 of the 2021 Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Filmed via Hamlin’s onboard camera, it shows Elliott attempting to gain track position.

Hamlin replied: “#9 wanted to ride the train.”

Elliott came back with a subtle jab: “#9 saw the writing on the wall…”

The reference was a flash back to the crash and lost victory in October 2017.

Could the otherwise tame Twitter exchange be a spark to refueling the long-simmering feud in 2022?

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