Hamlin discusses encumbered wins from Darlington

Nigel Kinrade/NKPPhoto

By Caleb Whisler, Staff Writer

RICHMOND, V.A— Coming into the weekend at Richmond Raceway, the talk has been about Denny Hamlin’s win at Darlington Raceway in both the NASCAR XFINITY Series and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

The same penalty that was found on Hamlin’s car was going on Joey Logano’s car in Richmond back in April. However, the spectrum is completely different for Hamlin because he has a win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to fall back on.

When his car went to the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, Hamlin knew that something was wrong on Monday. Crew chief, Mike Wheeler, went to the center and confirmed that something was not high. “As far as I understand, my crew chief went and saw it for himself on Wednesday. He deemed it not right. So I would agree with the assessment,” said Hamlin.

Hamlin believes that the penalty fits the violation found in Concord. Although Hamlin believes that the infraction had nothing to do with winning the race. “It took something that was super positive and turned it into a negative pretty quick,” said Hamlin about the emotions of the penalty.

The talk of the week has been that NASCAR should take the win away from the organizations that receive the encumbered penalty. Hamlin believes that the sanctioning body should take away the win as long as the penalty is the same for everyone.

“I think it’s definitely a possibility. As long as it’s the same for everyone, I think that’s key. Make sure that when someone else is in there with the same violation, it gets the same penalty and treatment even if it’s in the Playoffs,” said Hamlin. “I think that’s what makes me nervous – is that in the Playoffs? Is NASCAR going to do the same things when so much is on the line? Obviously, it’s negative publicity for everyone involved. so I just hope that it’s the same. I’m fine with taking wins away. Nothing wrong with that.”

As the cars run virtually the same, teams will build in tolerances in their vehicles to have an advantage over their competitors. Hamlin mentioned that Darlington ate up the tolerances as the teams would tag the wall, dirt and sand in the joints, etc. Hamlin’s team now knows that the team will build in a bigger tolerance when the series returns to Darlington in 2018.

“We got to do a better job going back. Now that we know what we built in was not enough, we’ll fix it and go forward, so we got to take responsibility for last week. If the shoe was on the other foot, it was one of my competitors, I would expect the same kind of penalty,” said Hamlin.

When fans claim that Hamlin and the No. 11 team was cheating, Hamlin was quick to respond about the “good ole days” NASCAR fans seem to remember fondly.

“How many wins does Richard Petty have? 200? One of those was with a big block, so does he really have 199? I mean, listen, my advice to those who say this or that is all the old school fans have been watching NASCAR forever, your driver cheated at some point in their career and they got away with it,” said Hamlin. “The difference is it was inches, not thousandths. They didn’t measure that stuff back then. It’s just a tighter box that we live in today.”

The penalty is something that Hamlin did not want to talk to coming into his home track. Although he will not have his crew chief the next two weekends, Hamlin believes there is tons of motivation coming into this weekend to go out and perform well.

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