Watch: 3 Years Ago When Boss Denny Hamlin’s Contact With Matt Kenseth Cut Short Bubba Wallace’s Texas Run

Give it up for the Autotrader Echopark Automotive 400 at the Texas Motor Speedway. Kyle Busch registered a spectacular win. Chris Buescher’s #17 Ford crashed early on Lap 5. Brad Keselowski collected valuable stage points. And Martin Truex Jr overcame his unfortunate starting position to suddenly lead the first stage. If these sound like appalling predictions for the race this weekend, fret not.

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This is a glimpse through the window to the unforgettable year of 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic halted the Cup season to introduce social distancing norms for the audience. And it was these sanitizer-laden masked fans on the bleachers who witnessed the wreck caused by Denny Hamlin on Lap 60.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin nudges Bubba Wallace and Matt Kenseth out of Texas Motor Speedway


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The round of 8 race in Texas saw Joey Logano at the top of the playoff table since winner Kyle Busch was eliminated in the previous round. Denny Hamlin retained his top 4 playoff spot despite the collision that catapulted Bubba Wallace and Matt Kenseth out of the race. A space crunch on the inside left no room for #11 Hamlin and he bumped into the #42 driver of Chip Ganassi Racing.

The impact pushed Kenseth into the incoming #43 of Richard Petty Motorsports. Bubba Wallace swirled around the track and into the wall, calling the 4th caution of the race. Kenseth, on the other hand, slid straight into the rain-washed grass on the side of the track. This caused considerable damage to the #43 car and completely demolished the front bumper.

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The broadcasters observed the unbelievable impact of the weather on the tracks. For, the dry grass in the previous Xfinity race was far easier on race winner Harrison Burton. But the disastrous effects of the momentum of a race car on the track grass were also evident with Ryan Preece’s multiple aerial flips in Daytona this season.

While Wallace and Kenseth couldn’t finish after the severity of damage to both cars, Denny Hamlin eventually salvaged his race to achieve a Top 10 finish for himself. However, the current Championship favorite fared slightly worse next year. 

Watch this story: Denny Hamlin Points a Finger at NASCAR’s Intricate System for Teammate’s Dramatic Downfall

The No. 11 driver faces Texas with a history of strong finishes and stronger collisions

With 25 laps to go, Denny Hamlin’s #11 Toyota aimed for another Top 10 finish in 2021. But the Joe Gibbs Racing driver busted his tires after a severe hit from Ryan Blaney. His crew somehow repaired the damage enough to sustain the race when he got caught in a crossfire between Chase Briscoe and Chris Buescher. Nine laps later, the collective expertise of the racer and his team attained an 11th-place finish.


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Surprisingly, 2022 also resulted in a 10th-place finish for Hamlin in Texas. For that, however, he would squarely fault Hendrick Motorsports’ #24 driver William Byron. The two championship contenders had friction throughout the race. But an earlier move from Hamlin sent Byron into an unusually retaliatory zone. On lap 269, he ran the #11 Toyota into the wall, costing several places to its driver. 

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This brings us to the highly anticipated race this weekend. With three previous wins on the track and 32 Top-10 finishes, the Bristol winner is a top contender for a back-to-back victory. But if the past three years have been any indication, a small bump could become an inescapable boulder, blocking the pathway to the finish line. 

Author: ZeroToHero

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