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Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson discuss Auto Club incident

Nate Ryan and Kyle Petty discuss NASCAR drivers following the growing trend of camaraderie in sports and analyze the mindsets of Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, and Martin Truex Jr. after their recent performances.

Kyle Larson said he knew Denny Hamlin didn’t intentionally wreck him in last weekend’s race at Auto Club Speedway and was appreciative of car owner Chip Ganassi’s defense on social media.

Hamlin and Larson were both on the Barstool Sports podcast “Rubbin is Racing” with Dave Portnoy and Clint Bowyer. The podcast was released Thursday morning.

Portnoy talked to Hamlin and Larson about their incident on the track at Auto Club Speedway, Hamlin’s social media video later that night of running into the back of Larson with a shopping cart and Chip Ganassi’s response on Twitter, calling Hamlin’s video #badtaste.

Hamlin explained on the Barstool Sports podcast his contact that caused Larson to hit the wall early in the race.

He knows that I’m not trying to do it intentionally,” Hamlin said of Larson. “He knows that I’m trying to help him. I just screwed up while I was trying to help him.”

Said Larson on the podcast: “Obviously, I also knew that it wasn’t on purpose, the wreck anyways. I was mad. I got put into the fence and my day was done, and I had to ride around way off the pace for two-and-a-half hours, so that wasn’t fun.

“We talked after the race. Like I said, I knew it wasn’t on purpose. I spent all race already being mad. I knew we were going to hang out all week in Phoenix, so why keep things awkward or make them more awkward than they should be? We race 38 weekends together a year. (Expletive) is going to happen every now and then.

“I think stuff that happens on the racetrack shouldn’t get in the middle of what you guys do off the racetrack, especially if it is not on purpose. It is what it is. I support Chip having my back. I think that is pretty cool. Like I said it wasn’t on purpose. At least I can get (Hamlin) back maybe someday and have an excuse.”

Bowyer then asked Larson if he thought about wrecking Hamlin after the incident.

“I did joke,” Larson said on the podcast chuckling, “I joked with him after the race, I said ‘Crazy how much stuff will run through your mind in a split second.’ I was ready …

Bowyer added: “You had such a good opportunity.”

Larson continued: “I was going to put him in the fence and then I’m like it’s a long drive to Scottsdale, I’m supposed to fly with him, I want to golf at all these nice courses this week, so I ended up not turning him into the fence, which I’m glad I didn’t.

“Yeah, because that would have hurt,” Hamlin interjected.

Larson continued: “Even if we didn’t have plans this week, we’re hauling ass into (Turn) 1 and he’s already broke his back once there, I wouldn’t want to do it again.”

Hamlin suffered a fractured L1 vertebra in a last-lap crash in 2013 at Auto Club Speedway.

As for the video, which has been viewed more than 450,000 times on Twitter, Hamlin said: “From my standpoint, we were just trying to make light of a bad situation and that was probably it. I understand Chip’s point of view, but I also think that saying bad taste, I don’t know, I was just tying to make a joke. Evidently 10,000 people that liked it thought it was funny too.”

Hamlin said Larson had no idea what Hamlin was going to do in the video.

“He didn’t see it coming,” Hamlin said on the podcast. “He didn’t see it coming. Ricky Stenhouse is there pushing the second cart and we were going down the aisle because we were grocery shopping for the house we’re at and I said, ‘Ricky get your camera out and give me that cart.’

Said Larson: “I could see them scheming something and they were kind of whispering to each other away from me, so I thought it was about me, but I didn’t know what was going on.”