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Madison, Ill.— Chase Elliott denied intentionally punishing Denny Hamlin.

That remark didn’t pass the eye test, but it might prevent NASCAR from penalizing.

With all the data every team—and the television networks—has on every vehicle, NASCAR no longer gives the benefit of the doubt.

Hamlin posted Elliott’s steering, throttle, and brake data Monday after the Charlotte race to prove he intentionally hooked him in the right rear.

All teams and NASCAR have such data, but Hamlin was going to demonstrate “the receipts” of why he wanted Elliott suspended for one race.

Elliott was suspended for the Gateway race Sunday by NASCAR less than 24 hours after the incident.

“When the eye test and data match, it’s usually kind of easy,” Hamlin said. “They monitor restarts and such.”

NASCAR will utilize the data, so most drivers understood the punishment. Drivers differed on NASCAR’s data reliance.

“Things happen really fast,” said Charlotte winner Ryan Blaney. “You don’t know someone’s emotions. You don’t know if anything was broken or a mistake.

Data isn’t reliable. You may maybe look at it, but then you’ll have to look at the scenario, watch recordings of it—I think there are a lot more things going on.”

Drivers used to be trusted

“I brought data up when Joey Logano wrecked me in 2017 and they didn’t give two s—-,” Kyle Busch stated of a Las Vegas incident. “I suppose enough drivers have done that where they were like, ‘OK, we should probably take a look at this and figure it out.'”

That’s okay. That’s good.”

Kevin Harvick also thought Elliott should have been fined for impeding him at Bristol two years ago.

“They learned at Bristol that they needed to use the data,” Harvick said. Since Bristol, they’ve done well with the data.

“It’s there. That’s up for debate. Use data.”

Data penalties?

Teams and broadcasters may show viewers every team’s steering, throttle, and braking statistics at once. Brad Keselowski said NASCAR must utilize it to maintain sport integrity.

Keselowski contrasted it to other sports employing instant replay after years of fans seeing but authorities not using it.

“You see in other sports that if fans have access to a tool that shows something, they expect the officiating to align with that,” Keselowski said.

“We’ve seen that in baseball and football where they have replays and officials didn’t have that and officials wouldn’t even watch the replays and that created a disconnect between fans and the officiating that wasn’t healthy.”

“I’m sure everyone will be,… ‘Look what he done to me. His data. He was open. Never lifted. Blaney stated he turned right or left. “Don’t overthink this.

Blaney doesn’t want drivers arguing with statistics.

“Honestly, you know when you wreck. If you want to cause trouble, the data side is public. To be honest, it’s like tattling to the principal.”

The principal knew what transpired. They suspended their most popular driver. Bubba Wallace was penalized similarly last year for wrecking Kyle Larson.

“It would be difficult to have a conversation with Denny [Hamlin], 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,'” NASCAR President Steve Phelps said.

“We hate it but it’s a call we needed to make.”

Chase Elliott was allowed to stay playoff eligible after missing the race Sunday due to a punishment for egregious retaliation against Denny Hamlin six days earlier.

To make the penalty more severe, drivers should not get waivers and be ineligible for the playoffs.

By Sanjh

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