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 duringÂ the Sprint Cup Series race on the two-mile track in Fontana, Calif. The result for the 32-year-old Virginia native wasÂ 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 ifÂ they can make it into the top-20 of the standings andÂ Hamlin can be oneÂ of twoÂ 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 wallsÂ closely liningÂ 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 ofÂ a driver’s own making or those of someone else.
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 positionÂ 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.
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