By admin | August 16, 2011
By Richard Allen
Joe Gibbs Racing recently announced that their company would move away from building their own engines and instead work in conjunction with Toyota Racing Development to build power plants. With the cutoff for the Chase for the Championship only four races away, driver Denny Hamlin may be hoping that the changeover comes sooner rather than later.
So far in the 2011 season JGR has suffered at least nine engine failures among drivers Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano.
The reason for concern by Hamlin is that he currently sits in the 12th position of the Sprint Cup standings. As the top driver outside the top-10 with a win, the Virginia native is in position to claim one of the wildcard spots for the Chase. However, his situation could be somewhat precarious considering the lack of reliability of his teamâ€™s engines.
Due to the fact that he has two wins, Brad Keselowski actually outranks Hamlin in the wildcard standings even though Hamlin is higher in the overall standings. So, Hamlinâ€™s greatest concern is keeping the next highest driver with one win, Paul Menard, behind him. And, of course, a win by Clint Bowyer or Greg Biffle could also threaten Hamlinâ€™s status as they are the two closest winless drivers to him outside the top-10.
Hamlin has expressed more than a little concern over his situation. According to ESPN pit reporter Dr. Jerry Punch, who during a weekly appearance on a Knoxville, Tennessee sports talk radio program, Hamlin has declared that he does not want a JGR engine in his car this weekend in Michigan.
If the driver has made such a statement, it shows an startling lack of confidence. But such a lack of confidence might seem somewhat justified considering the number of recent failures. However, it must also be considered that Busch currently sits atop the standings so the organization certainly can be successful as well.
Hamlin currently has a 27 point cushion over Menard. Should they suffer an early engine failure at any time over the next four weeks, the #11 team could find itself outside the Chase after having finished second in the playoff just one year ago.
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