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NASCAR not just losing Hamlin, but his buzz

Mar 27, 2013, 12:31 PM EDT

Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch AP

Denny Hamlin’s being out of action for at least six weeks is a greater loss than just his driving ability. Hamlin’s been in the eye of the media storm since before the green flag even dropped at this year’s Daytona 500.

Hamlin told The Dan Patrick Show on the eve of Daytona that Danica Patrick, had, in fact, garnered too much media attention given her results. But the attention she brought to the series was a net positive.

After Daytona, when Patrick won the pole and finished eighth, Hamlin and his now former Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Joey Logano began their budding rivalry. Hamlin wasn’t pleased with Logano’s moving around the track, not holding his line, in his Penske Racing debut.

A tweet addressed to Brad Keselowski from Hamlin read, “sorry I couldn’t get close to you cuz your genius teammate was too busy messing up the inside line 1 move at a time.” Clint Bowyer responded momentarily saying “2nd that,” while Logano later responded, “I remember when you were MY genius teammate. #LoveYouMeanIt.”

The year of Hamlin’s opinions, barely controversial although they were viewed that way in NASCAR’s eyes, continued after Phoenix when he said the series’ new Generation 6 cars had some ways to go to match the old cars in competitive terms. Hamlin was fined $25,000 by NASCAR for comments detrimental to the sport.

There was Bristol, where Hamlin spun Logano as Logano chased Jeff Gordon for the lead.

Finally, there’s this latest course of action where his contact with Logano has left him sidelined with a broken vertebrae. It’s the second straight year where an injury has taken a major star out of the sport (Dale Earnhardt Jr. sat out two races after suffering a concussion incurred at Talladega).

It’s also, in an amazing stat reported by the Sporting News’ Bob Pockrass, the first time in 21 years of JGR in NASCAR that a driver has been forced out due to injury. In 2011, Kyle Busch was suspended for the fall Nationwide and Sprint Cup races at Texas, and Michael McDowell subbed for him in the latter event.

  1. djjackson81 - Mar 27, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    I can’t believe we have lost Hamlin for 6 weeks because Joeys action. This story is going to put NASCAR rating through the roof. Tony Stewart is already livid with Joey. Now the causing another driver to go to the hospital after a wreck which could have been avoided is crazy. Now we here Denny is out 6 weeks. I’m putting my money on Tony Stewart to make Joeys entire year on ice.

  2. gbar22 - Mar 27, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    Don’t be a fool. The last lap was just hard racing for a win. Nothing more nothing less. Denny started this whole mess with his mouth and then perpetuated it with his on track actions. The whole race they didn’t race dirty with one another just the final lap as they should have. The people who own auto club speedway should be ashamed of themselves for not putting safer barriers everywhere a driver could hit

  3. psychranger - Mar 27, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    C’mon DJ. If that had been Earnhardt or your favorite driver racing Hamlin you would have just called it hard racing which it was. Both drivers were trying to win the race. And Smoke has no room to gripe about causing pile ups with his driving history. I love Tony but he’s always been a hothead and no way on earth he woulda let somebody pass him for the win without blocking if he could. The real problem with the race was a track that’s too cheap to make sure it’s as safe as possible. If they’d done that, we could all sit back and watch the feud continue. There’s always been feuds and hopefully always will be since it’s part of the fun in racing. Maybe you’d like it better if they all wore skirts!

  4. worknman24hours - Mar 27, 2013 at 10:55 PM

    Hamlin’s own actions causes him to get himself injured and it’s Logano’s fault.

    Give it a rest- people.

    Look,if you are going to try and tap the back of a guys car as he drives away from you,you better keep control of your own car in the process.

    Hamlin was so dedicated to wrecking Logano as he drove away from Hamlin,that now Hamlin-THROUGH HIS OWN ACTIONS–sits in a hospital for it.

    I don’t feel sorry for Hamlin.

    He’d be just as smug as Logano is now if Logano was in the hospital.

    I hope Hamlin gets well fast but he’s where he is because of his own actions and no one elses.

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