Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

Denny Hamlin makes a great comeback, but Kyle Busch, well, not a great finish....and just ask Kasey Kahne

Denny Hamlin makes a great comeback, but Kyle Busch, well, not a great finish....and just ask Kasey Kahne

Kasey Kahne smoking, after slapping the wall, as Kyle Busch (green) slips underneath, and Matt Kenseth lurks just behind in the final minutes of the Southern 500 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)




   By Mike Mulhern

   Denny Hamlin made an amazing comeback Saturday night, truly amazing, charging down the stretch with a shot at the win, in his first full race back on the NASCAR tour after suffering an serious back injury just six weeks ago.
    "It feels good to just be competitive again," Hamlin said after finishing second to teammate Matt Kenseth in the legendary Southern 500. "Watching the races from the sidelines is tough. 
    "My back held up good. I'm more sore, shoulders, neck, things like that.  I've got to get back in racing shape.  It will take time to get back to where I need to be.
     "I definitely didn't feel any back pain.  It was just more stamina that I had issues with."

      Teammate Kyle Busch dominated, but lost in the final miles. Kenseth did the same thing himself last weekend at Talladega.
      Kurt Busch also started strong but faded midway.
     Hamlin, on the other hand, started slow but turned things around.
     "We didn't run as strong as what I hoped throughout the day," Hamlin said. "We were mired fifth to eighth.
    "Track position was so key.  You had two to three laps on restarts to get your positions, and after that you were in defense mode.
     "For me, we kept grinding away. And the pit crew picked us up some stops.
     "I feel good. I'm just sore and tired. 
     "But it just takes a while -- Really, it's like starting your season over.
    "There are some muscles that have gotten weak.  I've gotten pretty sore and tired, mentally tired as well.
   "We'll have a couple weeks really to rest until the next long event (Dover June 2), and we'll be good to go then."

    This was a surprising Southern 500 in many aspects.
   First there was virtually no passing, virtually no caution flags. In fact, the race was more than an hour old before the first yellow, and that for debris. Not until the final 30 minutes did the intensity pick up.
    Lapped traffic wasn't easy. And figuring out which groove to run frequently seemed a mystery.
    Even for Kyle Busch -- on one late restart, he picked the outside line, and that turned out to be the wrong decision. The next time he picked the inside lane.
   Hamlin said "it didn't matter if it was a lap-car or a position car, if you got within five or six car lengths of someone, you really struggled to make the pass... even get up to the guy."
    It appeared to be an aerodynamic issue, not surprisingly given the amazing jump in speeds this season with the new 2013s. Speeds here were well over 200 mph into the corners.
   "I could have a clean track about half a straightaway, and be the fastest car by a long ways -- three-tenths or four-tenths every lap," Hamlin said. "But as soon as I reel somebody in (and get trapped in bad air in traffic), I'm a 20thplace car.
    "It's tough when you can't get around some guys.  But the lap cars -- it's tough, because they don't have anywhere to go.  This track is very narrow, and they're trying to predict whether you're running the bottom, middle or top.  All that , and it is only three cars wide."

    Teammate Kyle Busch, naturally, didn't take his fate that well.
   "It's tough when you have a car as dominant as his, and then the last run whatever happens happens," Hamlin said.
    "But it's part of the game of racing.  I don't run as hard for the first 400 miles as I did the last 100. And until you get track position, you never know what your car can do.
    "Matt didn't look like he had a winning car all race long, until he got the track position. Then he took off.
    "Whether it was holding back and saving, whatever he was doing, he found an extra gear in the last run.
    "And it is always tough when it's a team car that overtakes you at the end.  It's always more difficult."

    Busch wasn't the only man disappointed.
    So was Kasey Kahne, who wound up scrapping the wall on lap 335 of the 367-lapper, while dicing for the lead with Busch.
    It was the second straight week the two tangled, and the third time this season.
    It did not appear that Busch actually tagged Kahne's left-rear bumper to trigger the incident, but it was very, very close.
    Kahne was not happy:  "We were racing hard. I cleared him getting into turn three... so I had the outside. And I then I saw he entered so early that I knew he was not going to be able to turn when we got to the corner.
    "The next thing I knew I was spinning.
    "I don't know... Three times this year me and Kyle have had contact, when I've had cars capable of winning.
    "Whether he hit me or just blew the air off, he blew his entry... and I'm not real sure what he was thinking on that.
    "He needs to quit. I mean he's got to just race me.  I've never touched the guy in my life.
    "Three times this year...and there have been other times in other years.  I don't really know what his deal is with me. 
    "I think he just struggles racing me, and he made an error in his entry. He entered so early and had no steering. 
     "He'd passed so many lap cars he knew what was going to happen.  He tried to stop but he couldn't slow down at that point.  He just kind of just screwed up again.
     "This is his third time this year he has screwed up.
     "I imagine he will call me again tomorrow and say he's sorry."




Kyle and Kasey

I recall several races years ago where a second place car purposely tried to take the air off a lead car to loosen him up at the end of a race in an attempt to get around him. Isn't that what a racer should do? If Kyle didn't touch him, I don't see that Kasey has a legitimate complaint about this race.
The race the week before was different. Kasey had a legitimate complaint. But part of the blame has to go to NASCAR for having cars so light in the rear that the slightest touch in the rear can send the car into the wall.
Fans want to see close, aggressive racing, and the ability to pass a slightly slower leading car, but without drivers intentionally wrecking someone with a hard bump. It will not happen without NASCAR improving the aerodynamics.
As far as the lack of passing last night, the track looked too smooth. I remember just a few years ago (before the track was repaved) watching the cars wiggle coming off every corner because of bumps. I didn't see that last night.
Last night was by no means the best Darlington race I have seen, but it is sad to think that it will be a whole year until the next Darlington race.


I'm sick of kasey's excuses- maybe he caught the "whine" bug from Gordon? A couple weeks ago, he intentionally wrecked Mark,so he's no stranger to wrecking people,and nothing is ever his fault. i'm no fan of either driver, but for K.K. to complain about kyle is asinine, given his recent actions.

Reply to 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