Denny Hamlin: Winning Shootout Isn't Worth Risking Safety of Drivers and Fans

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Denny Hamlin: Winning Shootout Isn't Worth Risking Safety of Drivers and Fans
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

After a night of two-car drafts, speeds surpassing 200 miles per hour and close calls including multiple crashes, crossing the finish line came through no where like most imagined it would be.

"Winning the shootout is not worth sending the 39 into the grandstands," Denny Hamlin said as herds of reporters surrounded him to find out his reasoning behind taking a penalty during the final lap by going below the yellow line of Daytona International Speedway.

The move shocked fans who watched as Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Toyota, pushed Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Chevrolet, and dropped completely below the double-yellow line on the track, sending his finishing position to the end of the lead lap. 

"You got to, that yellow line is there to protect us and the fans in the stands' safety," he mentioned after settling with his black-flagged pass. "I just chose to take the safer route." 

Coming toward the finish line, Jamie McMurray held onto the tail of Kurt Busch, while Denny Hamlin dove below Ryan Newman after pushing him for multiple laps in their two-car draft.

The final lap pass was expected, but his duck below the yellow line eventually handed the win over to Kurt Busch, sending him through with the win of the 33rd Budweiser Shootout, making him the first Dodge to ever win the unofficial season opener. 

Hamlin states that he understands NASCAR's ruling and made the move below the line to prevent sending Newman airborne and putting drivers and fans at risk. Although he does believe that NASCAR should look into lifting the rule of the yellow line for the final lap, not for his benefit but for safety regarding cars pulling away too closely at the finish line.

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