Hamlin-Harvick confrontation ends peacefully

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The multi-car crash with 54 laps to go in last night’s Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway affected a lot of Chase hopefuls, but Kevin Harvick and pole sitter Denny Hamlin’s nights were also ruined as a result.

The incident was triggered by contact between Brian Vickers and Denny Hamlin, who suffered a cut tire and then went up toward the wall to start the melee.

When Hamlin came back around to pit road, he found Harvick’s car in his stall and, after being told to do so by his Joe Gibbs Racing crew, promptly used the front bumper of his car to push Harvick out.

That didn’t seem to make Harvick very happy and he promptly hopped out of his No. 29 Chevrolet and went toward Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota. But instead of instigating a fight – something that the fans in attendance at BMS seemed to be expecting – Harvick ducked his head in Hamlin’s window and had a non-eventful discussion about the matter.

“He just told me his version of it,” said Harvick, who finished 34th. “It’s all good. It’s Bristol racing and it’s just something I wanted to know.”

As for Hamlin, he said he immediately knew that the frustrated Harvick hadn’t yet seen the replay of the incident.

“Luckily, we were able to talk right away and hash it out,” said Hamlin, who wound up 28th. “The No. 55 [Vickers] just cut down on us right in the middle of the straightaway and it cut my right front tire.

“I’m just in the car and a steering wheel holder at that point. It caused a huge accident. It sucks, but I didn’t cause it.”

The crash continued what has been an extended rough patch for Hamlin, who hasn’t had a Top-10 finish since his eighth-place effort at Pocono back in June. That was 10 races ago.

“We cannot catch a break,” he said. “You’ve got to laugh at it at this point. It’s somewhat humorous.”

Here’s who were picking to win the Indy 500 — who are YOU picking?

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Several members of the NBC Sports motorsports staff have made their predictions on who will win Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Of the six voters, two are going with 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champ Josef Newgarden, while two others are going with Helio Castroneves to win a fourth 500, which would tie him with A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.

Here’s our picks. Who are YOU picking?

Leigh Diffey: Helio Castroneves — He drives the place better than anyone else. For me (for what its worth) he deserves a fourth 500 ring for the frustration he went through never getting the IndyCar title!

Townsend Bell: Josef Newgarden

Nate Ryan: Simon Pagenaud — All of his 2018 misfortune on the track has disappeared in May, and it culminates in the biggest victory of his career.

Jerry Bonkowski: Helio Castroneves – There’s no pressure as he pursues his fourth Indy 500 win. All Helio has to do, as late NFL owner Al Davis would say, is “Just win, baby!” (But if Helio falls short, watch for Marco Andretti)

Kyle Lavigne: Josef Newgarden — I think he has everything he needs to get it done this year.

Dan Beaver: Robert Wickens – Has driven like anything except a rookie and his second-place finish at Phoenix proves he’s just as good on an oval as the road courses.

Follow: Jerry Bonkowski