NASCAR favorite Chase Elliott was absent from Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series Race at World Wide Technology Raceway after he was suspended for intentionally crashing into Denny Hamlin in the Coca-Cola 600 last week.
While most drivers have seemingly supported the disciplinary decision, a comment from NASCAR president Steve Phelps ahead of this past weekend’s race has left some fans confused.
According to FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass, Phelps said Saturday that the decision to suspend Elliott was based on the precedent that had been set when Bubba Wallace was suspended in October after he crashed Kyle Larson at the NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
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“It would be difficult to have a conversation with Denny or 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,” Phelps told Pockrass.
“We hate it but it's a call we needed to make.”
It was Phelps’ final remark that left fans scratching their head.
“So if I’m reading this right, Phelps really didn’t want to suspend Elliott. I’m assuming they didn’t want the backlash,” one user wrote.
“Why would they ‘hate’ making the right call? He deserved the suspension 100%,” another user responded.
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Hamlin says he was right rear hooked by Elliott on Lap 186 of the race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Hamlin and Elliott were side-by-side when Hamlin forced Elliott into the outside wall. Elliott then made contact with Hamlin's right rear, forcing him head-on into the wall.
Hamlin immediately made the comparison to the incident involving Wallace and Larson and added that “he shouldn’t be racing.”
Drivers have supported the decision to suspend Elliott, who was voted NASCAR’s most popular driver for the past five seasons.
“I’m just glad that NASCAR is consistent,” Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron said Sunday. “I think that we’ve seen it in the past and it's a little bit different circumstances but similar. So I think just being consistent is good and I hope I’m never in those positions to have to encounter that or be on the losing end of it.”
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“What happened to Bubba last year, very similar to what happened on Monday night,” Ryan Blaney said Sunday.
“If you’re going to make a call on one guy for doing some move, you have to be consistent on what you call on another guy for doing a move. That’s just kind of what it is. It’s good that they were kind of consistent in the calls for the exact same kind of retaliation and I think that’s how it should be.”
Fox News’ Ryan Morik contributed to this report.