Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

Denny Hamlin dominates but stumbles, and Kasey Kahne is right there to pounce

Denny Hamlin dominates but stumbles, and Kasey Kahne is right there to pounce

Kasey Kahne, smokin' 'em in victory

   By Mike Mulhern

   Denny Hamlin  had the hottest car, led the most laps, but a late pit stop miscue proved costly. And Kasey Kahne pulled off his second win of the season Sunday and has now apparently shaken off the monkey that dogged him early in the season.
     "Just miscommunication. I told Darian (Grubb, his crew chief) I needed tires, and he thought I meant four tires," Hamlin said dejectedly of the pit stop that cost him track position. A two-tire stop would have kept Hamlin in the lead.
   "But if we're not wrecking we're in contention to win every week. I'm very pleased with where we are right now."
   Hamlin made a valiant charge but came up six lengths short. "I was just trying to get up close enough to hit him and make it exciting," Hamlin said with a laugh.
   "Denny obviously had the best car, " Kahne said. "I saw him coming on four (tires), but I felt good about our track position."
   Did Kahne steal this one?
   "I wouldn't say 'stole one,' because we ran top-four all day," Kahne, winner at Charlotte in May, responded.  


   Denny Hamlin's crew: a four-tire stop...when a two-tire stop would have been the winning move (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

  The win makes Kahne the fifth man to win at least twice this season, so while Kahne is still a distant 12th in the standings, he looks much stronger in the run toward the playoffs.
    So the mild-mannered, soft-spoken Kahne ended a good week victorious. Last Sunday he beat teammate Jimmie Johnson in the Charleston, S.C., triathlon.
    "I thought it was a non-call at the end (to take just two tires), so I was surprised when Denny took four," Kenny Francis, Kahne's crew chief, said.
    Johnson got bad luck in the second half of the race, pitting just moments before a yellow came out. That stuck him back in the pack, and he could only get back to seventh.
   "It was the Gibbs cars and the Hendrick cars, and at times I had the best Hendrick car," Johnson said.
   "And I'm just going to stay quiet about that caution."
   That was on lap 235 of the 301, for oil on the track from David Reutimann's blown engine.


  The victory that may well put Kasey Kahne in the championship playoffs (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   Hamlin too was not pleased with the cautions, debris cautions, but said he too would bite his tongue. "It hurts," Hamlin said.
    "I wasn't sure about any of them. But I shouldn't talk about them, because it's not in my favor. (He got fined $50,000 once by NASCAR for complaining about cautions.)  
   "I knew we had rain coming....
   "But it's frustrating, when you spend 60 or 75 laps  building that lead, and then have it taken away for some debris, or whatever it may be.
   "They felt like it was a hazard wherever it was. But I would like it to be something that's really a danger and hazard to us drivers...otherwise let the race play out."
   To that point, Bruton Smith, who owns this track, has said NASCAR needs more cautions, because the bunched up field livens up the action. His Texas race and his Kentucky race this season were both virtually caution-free and incident-free. And as strong as Hamlin was this 301 wasn't very lively either, particularly by New Hampshire standards.
   And it should certainly pointed out that drivers have been killed here, Adam Petty and Kenny Irwin.


   Miscommunication proved costly for Denny Hamlin (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   Still, the race's three cautions were all for debris, and tire marks on doors were rare.
   But then maybe some of these drivers were already on vacation -- the tour's only off-week between now and the Homestead finale Thanksgiving week starts now.
    The points for the day:
   -- Ford teams were never in the game. Still Matt Kenseth, a weak 13th, remains atop the Sprint Cup standings heading toward the Brickyard 400 July 29th at Indianapolis, just ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
   -- The nearly three-hour race was between Joe Gibbs' Toyotas and Rick Hendrick's Chevys. At one point, while Hamlin was leading, Hendrick's four men were running 2-3-4-5.
   -- Gibbs' Kyle Busch started from the pole and dominated the first hour, until he was docked for a pit road speeding penalty during the day's first yellow. He did get back to the front briefly, but faded to 16th.


   Sam Hornish Jr. (L) and Jeff Burton (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   -- Sam Hornish Jr., subbing for sidelined AJ Allmendinger, had been put under pressure pre-race by boss Roger Penske, who is trying to figure out what to do with that team while Allmendinger's drug issues are hanging in the air. And Hornish didn't havemuch of a day, finishing a mediocre 22nd.
   That might not be good enough for Penske to keep Hornish in the car for the Brickyard 400. But then who might Penske otherwise have to pick from, if Allmendinger is still sidelined? Brian Vickers, who is running part-time for Michael Waltrip, might be available, but it's unclear how  Toyota officials might feel about letting him drive for Dodge.
    -- Tony Stewart never really got into the game, for some reason, and  had to fight just to finish on the lead lap.
    -- The bid for the two wild card spots for the playoffs is heating up. The two men not in the top-10 who have the most wins make the playoffs if they're top-20 in the standings coming out of the September Richmond race.
    Kahne, now the highest ranking driver with two wins, looks good.
    And the man just ahead of Kahne in the standings, Carl Edwards, is not making any headway toward needed wins. He finished 18th.


   Darian Grubb: dominant car, and almost the winning crew chief (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   Showing that the day was good for Toyota overall, Clint Bowyer battled to third.
   "It's a humbling sport," Bowyer said. "You go from winning (Sonoma) to crashing out twice to making the podium again.
    "This track is just so hard to pass on."
   Indeed there were very few passes for the lead under green out on the track, when drivers weren't making routine pit stops. In fact a cursory review shows only two -- and both on restarts.    
  Not much for real racing action.
   But then if disappointments and frustrations can make for entertainment, there was that here.
   "You'll have days like this, just part of racing," Hamlin said with a sigh. "That one little mistake will magnify and take a win away from you.
   "But we know when we come back here in September when it really counts (in the chase) we know we have something.
   "If there had been just one caution in those last 75 laps, that (four-tire) call would have been right.
   "But Darian has won me more races this year than cost me.
   "So you just have to take it in stride, and ignore the frustrations.  Think forward, not about anything bad that just happened."

    Do you have insurance for that, Kasey? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


How refreshing to see Denny accept his misfortune

How refreshing to see Denny accept his misfortune with professionalism and maturity, unlike the brothers who shall remain nameless......

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com