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Chase Elliott suspended by NASCAR after Hamlin crash

Elliott and Hamlin were battling for position just 15 laps shy of halfway when Hamlin pushed up the track, causing Elliott to hit the outside wall.

Elliott then appeared to turn down the track into the right-rear fender of Hamlin's car, sending him head-on into the outside wall in a violent crash that eliminated both drivers from the race.

Although Elliott said it wasn't intentional, but Hamlin posted SMT data on social media that seemed to suggest otherwise. Hamlin called it a "tantrum" and said that Elliott "shouldn't be racing next week."

NASCAR took action less than 24 hours later and on Tuesday, suspended Elliott for one race. He will miss this weekend's event at Gateway.

In an interview Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, NASCAR Senior VP of Competition of Elton Sawyer said: "Drivers need to understand they have to handle that a completely different way."

Hamlin will feel vindicated by the decision, having called Elliott out on TV, social media and on his podcast.

“There’s no explanation that he could possibly give, which he didn’t, for hanging a left,” said Hamlin on his Actions Detrimental podcast. “He obviously didn’t want to admit, he did ‘ahh I can’t hear you, sorry’ [in his TV interview] and ‘yeah, my car, just couldn’t drive it’.

“Bull**** – the f****** wheels were dead straight. Even after we crashed and destroyed our s***, he goes down the back straightaway and look at both tires. Front tires are pointing the correct direction.

“And I pointed out in the data that I tweeted that once he got in the wall there was nothing wrong with his car. You can tell by data whether you’ve got toe-link damage or not. So you can tell that, basically, if your line is skewed one direction or another where you had to turn it left, turn it right.

“He threw a hissy fit and he just hung a left on us on the most dangerous part of the racetrack that you possibly could.”

Corey LaJoie, Spire Motorsports, FOE Chevrolet Camaro (Photo by: Ben Earp / NKP / Motorsport Images)

LaJoie to replace Elliott this weekend

Corey LaJoie will replace Elliott behind the wheel of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

Hendrick Motorsports will not appeal the penalty, releasing the following statement: "We understand NASCAR’s need to maintain consistency in its officiating. The penalty will not be appealed, and we will submit a formal request for a playoff waiver.

"Corey LaJoie, 31, will drive the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 this weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway. We are grateful to Corey for stepping in and to the team at Spire Motorsports for making him available."

Carson Hocevar will take LaJoie's place behind the wheel of the No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet, making his NASCAR Cup Series debut. 

Spire Motorsports released the following statement: “We’re always happy to help our friends at Hendrick Motorsports and couldn’t be prouder to see Corey LaJoie get the opportunity of a lifetime to race a Hendrick Motorsports’ Chevrolet. When we were approached by HMS, it was really an easy answer. Our entire organization and the whole team at Schluter Systems are on board and thrilled to see Corey realize an incredible opportunity. At the same time, we’re eager to see Carson Hocevar get behind the wheel of the No. 7 Schluter Systems Chevy Camaro. Carson has proven to be more than capable and he’s done a great job in our No. 77 Premier Security Chevrolet in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. This is a win for everyone involved.”   

The suspension is identical to the action taken by NASCAR officials last fall after a similar incident unfolded at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Bubba Wallace hit the wall after being pushed up Kyle Larson, and reacted by right-rearing the Hendrick driver and turning both cars into the outside wall.

Elliott has already missed six races this season after suffering a fractured tibia in his left leg, which happened while snowboarding in early March. He sits 29th in the championship standings 81 points below the cut-off line for the playoffs.

The 27-year-old Elliott won the NASCAR Cup Series title in 2020, and has been named the sport's Most Popular Driver for five consecutive years.

Lajoie is currently 20th in the championship standings, 38 points outside of the playoffs.

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