Hamlin Says Emotions Got The Best Of Him
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Kansas City, Mo. – Denny Hamlin says that a key to his having a shot at winning this year’s Sprint Cup championship is an increased level of maturity on his part and on his team’s part.
Thursday afternoon, Hamlin admitted that his fight to become more mature both in and out of race cars this season suffered a setback last weekend when he allowed himself to be dragged into the Richard Childress Racing vs. NASCAR fracas.
“You’ve got to worry about yourself,” Hamlin said after arriving in Kansas City for this weekend’s Price Chopper 400 Presented by Kraft event at Kansas Speedway. “For me, messing with those guys (RCR drivers Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick), or them messing with me, it’s not going to win any of us a championship and I don’t think any of us want Jimmie (Johnson) to win another one. I think we need to stay focused.”
The “messing” came last Friday at Dover International Speedway. Bowyer, two days before, had been docked 150 points after the car he had used to win the Chase-opening race at New Hampshire the weekend before, was found to be illegal by NASCAR.
Bowyer and team-owner Childress insisted the car was found to be out of spec because of post-race contact with a tow truck. They insisted they were not cheating, not trying to cheat and would not cheat.
That, Hamlin said, struck a nerve with him. During a press conference at Dover, he asserted that RCR has been using hinky cars for a while now and that many in the garages have known that.
Bowyer then fired back at Hamlin.
On Thursday in Kansas City, Hamlin said his accusations were, “More defensive than anything else. When Clint said some things, it kind of set some things off in me that I probably shouldn’t have said but it is just one of those things where you get defensive.
“It doesn’t matter where you’re from, when somebody talks about your college basketball team or your family, you get defensive. That’s what happened.”
Hamlin said that he was not surprised that an appeals panel refused to lift or lighten the penalties to Bowyer and his team – his crew chief, Shane Wilson, was suspended for six races and fined $150,000 and Richard Childress was docked 150 owner points.
“It’s typical,” Hamlin said of the verdict from the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel. “You see it in these situations that the chances of appealing (successfully) are really, really small.
“For NASCAR to lay down the penalty they have, especially to lay down a 150-point penalty, they have conclusive evidence and it is going to be hard to convince them otherwise. I don’t think NASCAR is out to get any one. They just want to keep things level as possible.”
The social media universe has been filled with talk that there is more to the story, that there may be a conspiracy involved in the the Bowyer vs. NASCAR actions.
Not happening, Hamlin said.
“The only people who think it is a conspiracy are the people who don’t like the outcome of what just happened,” he said. “That’s the thing about our race fans. They are so fickle at times. If something goes bad for their driver, it is always somebody else’s fault. It’s the same thing with us race car drivers. If we get in a wreck, it is always somebody else’s fault. That’s what kind of sport we have and it’s just part of it.”
Hamlin also said he was not attempting to get into Bowyer’s nor anybody else at RCR’s head. He just chuckled when it was suggested he did seem to manage to get into RCR driver Kevin Harvick’s skull as Harvick put a whack job on Hamlin’s car during the first practice at Dover.
They then exchanged words in the garages after the practice.
Hamlin will start Sunday’s race on top of the point standings. He is 35 points ahead of second-place Johnson.
– Jim Pedley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgNo Comment