Are NASCAR fights staged? Denny Hamlin weighs in

Posted at 10:28 AM, Mar 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-07 12:28:42-05

Denny Hamlin will forever be known as the winner of the closest Daytona 500 finish in the history of that race.

But the 35-year-old Tampa native is also known for some very public confrontations he's had with other drivers. 

Hamlin, who will compete in Sunday's Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, has mixed it up multiple times on the race track, including with Joey Logano in 2013 and Danica Patrick last year.

Some cynics believe these confrontations are staged by NASCAR in an effort to boost ratings and publicity. Read the YouTube comments on the Hamlin-Patrick confrontation; many viewers have equated it to a WWE event.

But Hamlin told ABC15 that these incidents are definitely not scripted.

"They're real. Trust me," Hamlin said of his run-ins with other drivers. "I would not be the one that signed up to get in a fight with Danica last year. Who wants to get in a fight with the girl of NASCAR?"

Hamlin says tempers simply run hot in what is a very dangerous and competitive environment.

"Everyone is very, very intense," he said. "When someone does something that affects you and in turn ruins your day, you feel pretty pissed off about it. That's when we get after each other."

Hamlin says certain drivers tend to be especially aggravating and don't follow NASCAR's unwritten rules of etiquette, which leads to confrontations like the ones Hamlin has experienced.

"There's kind of a common courtesy out there amongst us that, 'Hey, you've got the faster car, I'm only going to hold you up a certain amount of time. But there's others that just say, 'Hey, figure out a way around me. I don't care how long it takes,'" he said.

"It all comes full circle, though. You usually race people the way they race you, and if you get that courtesy, you usually get it back."