Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Denny Hamlin looks to bounce back from team's punishment

Denny Hamlin has won four times at Pocono Raceway, site of today’s Sprint Cup race.

Denny Hamlin has won four times at Pocono Raceway, site of today’s Sprint Cup race.

LONG POND, Pa. — Denny Hamlin hopes to find a positive from the massive NASCAR penalties levied on his Sprint Cup team this week.

Racing at Pocono Raceway is a good place to start.

Hamlin is a four-time winner at the track, a solid foundation to start his first race without his crew chief, Darian Grubb, and car chief Wesley Sherrill.

Both were suspended six races and placed on probation for the rest of the season after NASCAR found issues with the rear firewall plates on Hamlin's No. 11 Toyota following Sunday's race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Grubb was fined $125,000, and Hamlin was docked 75 points.

The team is appealing the penalties but elected to have Grubb and Sherrill begin their respective suspensions immediately. If the penalties aren't overturned, they won't be back until the Chase for the Championship.

"It's a tough deal. It's something that obviously affects our team, but there's obviously other opportunities as well for us to go out here and get our stuff going," Hamlin said.

"As an organization we were heading in the right direction so … you lose a little bit of that momentum. We're pretty confident that we'll get through it and by Chase time we'll be a contender."

The penalty doesn't affect Hamlin's Chase eligibility. His win May 4 at Talladega will get him in the 16-driver field so long as he remains in the top 30 in points (he's 21st going into today's 400, where he starts 13th).

Engineer Mike Wheeler is serving as Hamlin's interim crew chief and former car chief Chris Gillin is back at that position.

"I'm in pretty good hands. I've been with Mike Wheeler longer than I've been with anyone in the Cup series," Hamlin said. "We worked together a lot and pretty confident in the job that he's going to do, but on top of that, I get who was my car chief for 10 years, get him back to the racetrack.

"Even though it's tough losing those guys, and it's tough for them especially, I don't think things will change at the racetrack too much."

Opinions differ on how much the absence of a crew chief can affect a team, especially since Grubb can still work on cars back at Joe Gibbs Racing headquarters in Huntersville, N.C.

Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson have won races in recent seasons with interim crew chiefs but there is no way to replicate the driver-crew chief relationship over the radio on race day.

"You use stuff like this as motivation to go out there and prove that you can run fast no matter what and you can run well," Hamlin said. "We were on a run there last really month and a half to two months that I feel like our cars were really starting to turn the corner."

Sprint Cup points

After 20 of 26 races. Sixteen drivers make the season-ending Chase for the Championship.

Driver Pts. Back

Jeff Gordon** 717—

Dale Earnhardt Jr.** 693 24

Brad Keselowski*** 666 51

Matt Kenseth 661 56

Jimmie Johnson*** 628 89

Kyle Busch* 609 108

Ryan Newman 606 111

Carl Edwards** 603 114

Joey Logano** 591 126

Clint Bowyer 577 140

Kevin Harvick** 565 152

Kyle Larson 562 155

Each asterisk (*) equals one win.

Today's race 400, 1 p.m., Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, Pa.

TV/radio: ESPN; 102.5-FM

Denny Hamlin looks to bounce back from team's punishment 08/02/14 [Last modified: Saturday, August 2, 2014 8:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Twins eventually cash in as Rays lose, fall back to .500 (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays could only battle their way out of trouble for so long Saturday afternoon before succumbing in a 5-2 loss to the Twins.

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 27: Brian Dozier #2 of the Minnesota Twins celebrates hitting a two-run home run as Derek Norris #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on during the eighth inning of the game on May 27, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Rays 5-3. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) 700010973
  2. Rays Tales: The stories behind Corey Dickerson's ascension

    The Heater

    The 25 pounds DH/LF Corey Dickerson lost during the winter through diet and exercise are considered the primary reason for his ascension to one of the American League's most productive hitters, going into the weekend leading in hits, multi-hit games and total bases, and ranked in the top five in average, runs and …

    Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) connects for a sac fly, scores Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Steve Pearce (28) in the fourth inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
  3. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting


    UPDATE, 12:45: Cash said Robertson was taking better swings Friday and so he wanted to move him up today, liking the idea of having three straight right-handers vs. a LHP they don't know much about. ... Souza was still smiling this morning about his failed dive attempt last night, and the reaction it got. .. The …

  4. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  5. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]