Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Denny Hamlin no top-5's in Chase, leading in points

Hamlin doing outstanding job of taking what is there for his team
Did You Notice?Denny Hamlin is leading the Sprint Cup point standings without a single top-5 finish during the Chase? It’s true. Hamlin’s average finish of 13.4 over the past eight races is an eye-opener, a number that would easily qualify as the worst of anyone who won during the 11 years of NASCAR’s Chase format. With a best run of sixth at Chicagoland, this year’s playoff opener Hamlin has done no better than seventh since, sprinkling in a 37th at Loudon in September and an 18th at Russian Roulette Talladega last month.

“The breaks are falling our way, for sure,” he said Tuesday. “The performance is not necessarily falling our way. Obviously, we’re kind of gifted some circumstances we’re in right now. But we have an opportunity to capitalize on that.“

Hamlin, who saw a title slip from his grasp in 2010 now has a unique chance to make up for that. He’s the only one of the remaining contenders that wouldn’t be inside the top 10 in points without a postseason format (17th). Missing a race earlier this season, he’d have missed the cut under last year’s Chase system and has run no better than third outside the restrictor plate crapshoots of Daytona and Talladega. Much of the focus the past few weeks has centered around underdog Ryan Newman, whose four top-5 finishes this year equal the wins of no-longer-in-Chase contention Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jimmie Johnson. But Hamlin, who has just six top 5s of his own might be an even bigger upset, especially in a year where Toyotas have won just twice in 34 events.

“I feel like this year the pressure on our race team is a lot less than what it was in 2010,” he added Tuesday. “The expectations are a lot less from the media and the fans’ perspective, I believe.”

There will also be a lot of questioning the sport’s new format if he, Newman, or a winless Matt Kensethwind up holding the trophy in Homestead.

Read More

No comments: