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Denny Hamlin had a solid run and finished fifth at Las Vegas on Sunday in the first race of the Cup Series Round of 8. But it wasn’t the Joe Gibbs Racing driver’s finish or even the winner Joey Logano’s day that everybody was talking about after the race, but the second-stage incident between Bubba Wallace and Kyle Larson that ended with the 23XI Racing driver confronting and shoving the Hendrick Motorsports driver multiple times on the infield grass.

After the race, reporters visited with three-time Daytona 500 winner and talked about his day. One reporter addressed the elephant in the room and asked him about the altercation between his driver and Larson. Hamlin responded.

Bubba Wallace confronts Kyle Larson after contact

Bubba Wallace started the Las Vegas race with confidence, knowing he was running the same race-winning car he had used at Kansas just a little over a month earlier. It showed as the 23XI Racing car flashed speed early, with Wallace driving it up to the front, leading 29 laps, and winning the first stage.   

Early in the second stage, the No. 45 car dropped back to fifth and battled with Kevin Harvick for position. Kyle Larson tried to join the party going into Turn 3, diving down below Harvick and making it three-wide. However, coming out of Turn 4, the Stewart-Haas Racing car dropped back and the defending Cup champion began sliding up the race track with Wallace to his outside. Eventually, the 23XI Racing car ran out of room and made hard contact with the outside wall. 

The No. 45 careened off the fence and went straight into the right rear of the HMS car, sending both back up the track into the fence, collecting Christopher Bell in the process. Moments later, Wallace exited his car and walked over to Larson, where he pushed him several times before being escorted away by a member of the safety team.   

Denny Hamlin addresses situation between Wallace and Larson

Denny Hamlin waves
Denny Hamlin waves to fans as he walks onstage during driver intros prior to the NASCAR Cup Series South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on October 16, 2022. | Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Denny Hamlin never saw what happened. After the race, SiriusXM NASCAR’s Claire B. Lang caught up with the 23XI co-owner and talked about his race, where he finished fifth, and asked him about the incident.

“I didn’t see it,” Hamlin said. “Everyone has asked me about it. I’m assuming it’s substantial. Those things are usually a driver-to-driver issue. I don’t usually get in the middle of it. I’m friends with both of them so I’d just encourage both of them to talk to each other.”

Hamlin has seen something similar in the past


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Hamlin’s relationship with Wallace is well-documented since they joined forces at 23XI before the 2021 season. The JGR driver also has a close relationship with Larson. That was evident last year when Hamlin allowed Larson to use his plane to get back and forth between a short-track event and the race at Indianapolis.

It was also on display earlier this year in a less-than-pleasant way when Hamlin made a racially insensitive joke on Twitter about Larson’s driving ability following the spring Talladega race when the No. 5 made a miscalculation on the final lap of the race and took out both Wallace and Kurt Busch, which ended in a big hit for both cars.

Hamlin’s insensitive remarks at the time understandably received all the attention, but he made his point in questioning Larson’s decision-making. Ironically, that same judgment came into question on Sunday and resulted in an ugly incident that Hamlin might not have seen, but he certainly can expect to deal with the repercussions in the coming days ahead.

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