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Yet more rain washes out Friday Pocono qualifying

Greg Biffle needs a RoushFenway umbrella to weather the rain (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   POCONO, Pa.
   Denny Hamlin must feel like Joe Btfsplk, the jinxed Dogpatch character who seems to live under a thunderstorm.
   Just Sunday at Dover, for example, Hamlin was running second, with a good shot to win, when his right-front blew.
   That he's still seventh in the standings, despite his run of bad luck, is pretty good. His best run so far was a third at Richmond, and his last tour win was well over a year ago.
   Bad luck, or just no luck?
   "It's worse than bad," Hamlin says with a weak grin.
   "I've had bad luck…but I don't know….
    "I'm going to ride it out until it ends. 
    "That's the thing: for as much bad luck as we've had, we're not 20th in the points. And we're still digging."
    Thunderstorms here Friday at Pocono International Raceway washed out all action on the track, and the field for Sunday's Pocono 500 was set by the point standings, with Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon getting the front row for the 2 p.m. EDT start.
    "We're in there trying to make the chase, and we just can't have things happen," Hamlin says. "But like the blown tire last week, it just happens.  It wasn't self-induced; it was just a simple run-over-something and blow it out type thing. 
   "It's bad luck right now. 
    "I've had probably three races where we lucked into a better finish than what we deserved, and I've had probably 20 that went the other way. 
    "That's just part of it. And Kyle Busch (his teammate) is the same way --  Last year he really couldn't do much wrong….but this year he's had a ton of bad luck the last couple weeks that have kept him out of victory lane. 
   "I think it all comes full circle. It's just how long you are going to be in that rut. 
    "All you can do is just ride it out and try to be consistent enough to still make the chase. Then hopefully when it gets to the chase time, that's when you get all your good luck.
   "I just wait on the weekend that things go right -- and we have a good pit stop on the last stop and not have lug nuts drop off, or a cut tire, or anything. 
    "It takes mental toughness to ride out a bad spell….when you're running bad.  But we're not running bad, we're just having bad luck. 
    "That's what I take on Mondays and use as motivation -- that we're not struggling to find why we're not running top-10 or top-five. 
    "It's tougher to fix speed problems than it is luck problems. 
    "This stuff two years ago would have drove me nuts all the way until I hit the race track the next week. 
    "Now I'm over it as soon as I load on the plane and head home, because I realize it is a long season. 
     "As long as we're in that chase….
    "You can't look at the big picture until the last 10 races."

Denny Hamlin is trying to keep bad luck from getting him down (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


I may be missing something but this policy of "it's raining........cancel qualifying" on Friday afternoon for a Sunday race seems nutty. Qualifying takes time, yes. But the entire field doesn't have to qualify. 35 teams are locked in so wave off qualifying for those cars if it rains and start them by points as they do now.

For a sport that goes from February to November there will be rain. There ought to be a smidgen of time available to give the Go or Go Homers a shot and in the end, what more could a GGH team ask? I'd also suggest GGH qualifying start the session instead of ending. That way if it starts raining after the non top 35 teams have made their runs, those runs could be posted while the Top 35 are lined up via points.

Start-up teams that don't even get an opportunity, like the 3 teams in Pocono, spend a lot of money to prepare and send a crew to Pennsylvania, and then they're sent home before the weekend even starts for a Sunday race. Derrike Cope for instance, if my count is correct, has tried to qualify his #75 car seven times since last fall. The team DNQ'd at Daytona and Dover this season but the other 5 times including Pocono qualifying was rained out.

Seems from this vantage point NASCAR should make more of an attempt to give the non locked-in teams at least a chance to compete.

Danged, if that's not

Danged, if that's not brilliant? Certainly makes sense to me. let's see if NASCAR buys into it. Good call. thanks.

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