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Dover Offers Potential Pitfalls for Denny Hamlin

By admin | May 31, 2013


By Richard Allen

The Dover International Speedway, with its high speeds and concrete canyon like straightaways, is known for hard crashes. And that is exactly what Denny Hamlin cannot afford to have happen this weekend, or any other for that matter.

As anyone who follows NASCAR with any degree of regularity knows, Hamlin suffered a serious back injury in March when he crashed while racing for the win with Joey Logano during the Sprint Cup Series race on the two-mile track in Fontana, Calif. The result for the 32-year-old Virginia native was to be sidelined for several weeks.

But even with those four missed races, Hamlin and his Joe Gibbs Racing team still cling to the hope of making the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Because of the provision that allows for two ‘wildcard’ entrants into the 10-race playoff, this driver and team could still qualify if they can make it into the top-20 of the standings and Hamlin can be one of two drivers outside the top-10 of the standings with the most race wins.

At this point, every track offers potential pitfalls for Hamlin. However, the one-mile facility in Dover could possibly be the most hazardous of all.

Due to the fact that the Delaware facility has a horse racing track in its infield, there is little room to work with for the racing surface. Each straightaway is very cramped with walls closely lining each side. As a result of this crowding and the high speeds attained around the high-banked concrete track, there is little room for error. And those errors could be of a driver’s own making or those of someone else.

The tight straightaways of the Dover International Speedway

Even after his doctor’s clearance, Hamlin does not need another hard crash so soon after his recovery.

But aside from the obvious health risk involved, Hamlin cannot afford a crash or any other setback on the track due to his precarious points situation. He currently ranks 24th in the standings, 53 points behind 20th place Tony Stewart. And while that sounds like a margin that could be potentially overcome, one has to remember that with the current points system in use by NASCAR, that number places him more than a full race worth of points behind his ultimate goal.

And to make matters even more primed for potential disaster for Hamlin, Dover is not one of his better tracks. In 14 races there, he has no wins and only five top-10 finishes. His average finishing position on ‘The Monster Mile’ is little better than 20th place.

Needless to say, this weekend trip to the Dover International Speedway offers plenty of potential peril for Denny Hamlin. However, there is a bright side to this story. The Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas have shown tremendous strength throughout the 2013 season. No doubt, Hamlin is hoping that will be enough to overcome any other hazards ‘Miles the Monster’ might hurl in his direction.

Topics: Articles |

5 Responses to “Dover Offers Potential Pitfalls for Denny Hamlin”

  1. Benjamin P. Glaser Says:
    June 2nd, 2013 at 7:18 am

    Dover is one of my favorite tracks. Love the racing there.

  2. loose nut Says:
    June 3rd, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Rich, I know i am off subject but NASCAR is in deep trouble. I have attended 4 races this season to be amazed by the amount of empty seats.Talking to fans who have attended races for as long as I have [30 years]you get lots of opinions about why.I believe there is disconnect with the drivers,a lack for the love of fast cars as in the muscle car and sport sedan days of the 70’s and 80’s,and other prominent reasons as well.One thing for sure,someone in Daytona better wake up and take off the rose colored glasses!

  3. GinaV24 Says:
    June 3rd, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    Well, you called it. Hamlin blew a tire. Hopefully he didn’t injure himself again.

    Loose nut, I agree with you about the crowds. The crowd looked good at Martinsville & Darlington. Dover’s crowd has been diminishing for several years. The racing over the past 5 years at Dover has been boring as heck. This race, the powers that be at Dover added a new attraction. A 45 minute to an hour wait at ALL the gates due to some new security thing they implemented. Not, of course, that anyone thought about how it would impact fans getting inside the track.

    As annoyed as I was at being forced to wait in line for 45 minutes in the heat and humidity and blazing sun, when the racing was it’s usual Dover “grind” and parade laps. ZZZZZ. Count me out. I won’t bother to go back in the fall.

  4. Dave in Ohio Says:
    June 3rd, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    I have figured out a great scam to try to win a race. Let’s say you’re restarting in the closing laps of the race. Let’s say you are restarting in first, and the guy restarting in second has a car you know for a fact you cannot beat on this particular day. Let’s go out on a limb here and say your name is Montoya and JJ is behind you and this is your only chance to actually win on an oval.

    So here is the scam: you brake check the restart, pile everybody up behind you, and when JJ hits the gas within the box right where you should have, JJ looks to the world like he did the world’s most colossal jump on the restart. Then you further the scam by hanging back and not retaking the position he is trying to give back. You do this in full knowledge of the rule book, in that you know Na$car will black flag said car that you know you can’t beat, leaving you a clear shot to the checkered flag.

    It didn’t work on this day in that JP did not ultimately win the race, but it sure did take the best car out of contention. Since it worked so well in that regard, I can imagine seeing the move tried again.

  5. Bill B Says:
    June 3rd, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Dave in Ohio,
    Of course it’s very easy to negate having that happen. If you are the 2nd place car and know you are better than the guy in f1sdt, don’t try to beat the leader to the line. Concentrate on maintaining second place knowing you will pass them within the first 5 laps. After all it wasn’t a GWC, there were 20 laps and, if as you say, Jimmie’s car was that great (which I agree with) you have nothing but yourself to blame for being greedy on the restart.
    Why was it so important for Jimmie to be leading when they got to turn one. It wasn’t! He just got greedy and got burned this time.