Entering Sunday's FanShield 500 in Phoenix, NASCAR driver Ryan Blaney was sitting atop the leaderboard. He hasn't won a race during the 2020 season but has accumulated the most points, as well as a multi-year contract extension. Blaney had hopes of increasing his lead on the field during Sunday's race, but he ended up in the garage before the end of Stage 1.
Caution is out. Hamlin, Blaney and Keselowski all involved. pic.twitter.com/5HFVqD9rP1— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) March 8, 2020
As Blaney neared the end of the stage, he was clipped by Denny Hamlin, who was driving the No. 11 Toyota. Hamlin's car hit Brad Keselowski's, knocking him into the wall, and then it hit Blaney's. The No. 12 car took some serious damage and was taken to the garage.
Blaney met with reporter Jamie Little following the incident and revealed that he hadn't seen much as the crash was taking place. Upon watching the replay, he said that it looked like Hamlin was trying to "get up in there," but he clipped Keselowski's car before overcorrecting and hitting Blaney's.
The 26-year-old Blaney saw his day come to an end much earlier than expected. He was upset but didn't appear to be angry with Hamlin. The fans, on the other hand, did not hold back with their criticism of him.
Four weeks into the NASCAR season, fans are criticizing Hamlin for his driving style. Some feel that he is reckless and causing damage to other vehicles on a routine basis, whether he is bumping Kyle Larson's vehicle from behind or knocking Blaney out of the race.
With another collision taking place on Sunday, the fans are now wondering if they can bet on Hamlin. They don't care about whether or not he wins; they just want to make wagers on the number of cars he will wreck.
@dennyhamlin you need to quit NASCAR; you’re the worst driver, and a jerk to boot. Wrecking two good cars, including the point leader, simply b/c you’re an idiot.— MCM413 (@mcm413) March 8, 2020
Hamlin may have secured the season-opening win at the Daytona 500, but this did not help him win favor among racing fans. There were many that felt Ryan Newman should have won the race at Daytona International Speedway.
With Hamlin's No. 11 Toyota Camry knocking Blaney out of the race on Sunday, the veteran driver only further angered his critics. They responded by calling him a jerk and telling him to retire.
Hope @dennyhamlin never wins a championship— Jake Heller (@jtheller2) March 8, 2020
Hamlin has found considerable success in the NASCAR Cup Series during his career behind the wheel. He has won 38 races in the Cup Series and secured a spot in the playoffs 12 separate times.
That being said, Hamlin has never won a championship. He was in contention for the Cup Series Championship back in 2010, but he ultimately lost to Jimmie Johnson. This was great news for his critics.
I don't watch much NASCAR anymore. But, it seems like every time I do @dennyhamlin is wrecking somebody.— Allen Bolinger (@AJBolinger1961) March 8, 2020
Does Hamlin wreck his fellow drivers on a routine basis? There are certainly many racing fans that believe this is true. They made this point very clear on Sunday after watching the collision involving Hamlin, Keselowski, and Blaney.
One fan, in particular, made a point to bring up his viewing schedule. As this individual wrote on Twitter, they don't tune in every week, but they still see Hamlin causing collisions more than they would like.
@dennyhamlin please retire— Brandon Minto (@bminto25) March 8, 2020
With Hamlin taking out Blaney and causing damage to Keselowski's car, it became far less likely that Team Penske would be securing a victory during the FanShield 500. Those that root for this team and its drivers were not happy about that fact.
Following the collision, some fans called for Hamlin to stop racing on a full-time basis. They felt that his car was causing damage on the track, and they wanted it to stop.
Was Hamlin purposely targeting Blaney and Keselowski? The driver of the No. 12 Ford Mustang didn't believe this to be the case, but there were some fans on social media that felt Hamlin was on a mission to disrupt Team Penske.
Both Blaney and Keselowski driver for Penske, as does Joey Logano. With the two drivers being involved in the collision with Hamlin, there were now questions about whether or not Logano would be next.
No, it's called stupidity, takes talent and know how to spin out the car in back of you and in front of you at the same time. And I thought Kyle was an ass.— WHATS YOUR BEEF (@beef_your) March 8, 2020
Hamlin has his fair share of supporters that believe he is a very talented driver. His critics, however, believe that the driver of the No. 11 Toyota has a very special skill that is potentially harmful to other competitors.
As many racing fans said on Sunday, they believe that Hamlin has a talent for wrecking other drivers. They are tired of seeing his car disrupt races.
Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images