By admin | September 21, 2012
By Richard Allen
After a disappointing 16th place finish in which he ran out of gas in the closing laps of the first Chase for the Championship race last week in Chicago, Denny Hamlin took to Twitter and promised improvement. The driver who some had considered a favorite coming into the playoff posted, ”This is week 1 of 10. We will win next week.”That finish has Hamlin in 4th place in the overall standings, fifteen points behind leader Brad Keselowski.
But after the guarantee of a win this weekend in New Hampshire, Hamlin and the #11 Joe Gibbs Racing team were only able the manage a 32nd place result in Friday’s qualifying session on the relatively flat, one mile track. That was the slowest effort among the twelve championship contenders.
Aside from the fact that there are 31 other cars between Hamlin and the lead, he will have to overcome other potential stumbling blocks to make good on his tweeted promise. Pit selection is based on qualifying which means the #11 crew will probably have a space that will place them among pack of cars that will be coming and going on pit road with no easy entrance or exit.
And more, there is the possiblity of being swept up in someone else’s mess as Hamlin attempts to work his way forward. Poor track position is always difficult to overcome and factors such as aero-push and debris on the grille are more likely further back in the pack.
But all of those factors do not necessarily make winning from the rear impossible. According to reporter Dustin Long, Kurt Busch won at New Hampshire from the 32nd starting spot in 2004 while Jeff Burton took the checkered flag from all the way back in 38th in 1999.
While Hamlin now claims that his tweet was only meant as a “We’ll get them next week” type thing, the fact of the matter is that this driver and team gave away valuable championship points when their Toyota was not properly fueled during their final pit stop. A win might not be a necessity this week, but a good run certainly is. However, starting 32nd will not make that task and easy one.
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