NASCAR: Race-day penalties were enough punishment for Hamlin, Waltrip

CONCORD, N.C. -- Denny Hamlin won't be further penalized for intentionally bringing out a late caution in Saturday night's race at Richmond International Raceway even though there is precedent for it.

No further penalty also is expected against Michael Waltrip for intentionally wrecking Casey Mears, NASCAR officials said on Monday.

Hamlin was given a two-lap penalty when he stopped on the track with a cut tire with less than 10 laps remaining. NASCAR officials believed it was an intentional move to bring out the caution and allow Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch the opportunity to close on then-leader Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Hamlin admitted he stopped the car on purpose, saying his only option would have been to drag the sway bar off.

"I didn't want to tear up the car and not finish the race," he said. "The bottom line is we had to stop or we were going to get a DNF."

Hamlin said at no time did he think the caution would help his teammate.

"I didn't even know where Kyle was on the track," he said. "For all I knew he was leading the race."

A spokesperson for the governing body said during Monday's test session at Lowe's Motor Speedway that there would be no further punishment.

But in 2004, Earnhardt was docked 25 points and fined $10,000 for intentionally bringing out the caution at Bristol. In the 2002 running of the All-Star race, Kurt Busch was fined $10,000 for intentionally spinning out Robby Gordon to bring out a caution.

Hamlin said the two-lap penalty was "a kick in the face" after he led 381 laps before a cut tire forced him to surrender the lead to Earnhardt. Several drivers testing at LMS were reluctant to say the act was intentional.

Hamlin stayed on the track for several laps after the tire started going down before stopping.

"He was overly frustrated that he led over 300 laps and pretty much was going to win that race," four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon said. "He was extremely upset and frustrated and obviously didn't do what most people would, which would be to come to pit road before the [tire] blows."

Hamlin's weekend didn't get any better when he injured his left hip while playing basketball on Sunday night. He walked with a noticeable limp during testing, but said that wouldn't be a factor for the upcoming race at Darlington.

"It ain't been very good," Hamlin said of the previous 24 hours.

Meanwhile, Waltrip was parked with about 40 laps remaining when he intentionally took out Mears after Mears got into him a few laps earlier. Officials said the hit Waltrip took in points -- he finished 37th and fell a spot to 32nd in points -- was severe enough.

Mears admitted he may have brought on the retaliation.

"Initially it was our fault," he said. "I don't know if we just had a radio problem or what happened there, but we were kind of running by ourselves there for quite a while. I think [Waltrip] came out on new tires and was running us down and I just wasn't aware of it, and I came off 4 and hit him and I had no idea he was there."

Waltrip responded by smashing into the back of Mears' car.

"I can understand why he'd be upset, because it definitely wasn't his doing," Mears said. "But obviously afterwards what he did wasn't right. I can understand the emotion and being upset, but you definitely don't want to do something like that. He realizes that, too, and we'll all move on."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.