Jul 2, 2013, 2:53 PM EST
In addition to being known more so as “The Intimidator,” the late Dale Earnhardt was also nicknamed “Ironhead,” mainly for his stubborn ways.
Given the beating his body – and more recently his noggin have taken this season – Denny Hamlin could be NASCAR’s new “Ironhead.”
Or at the very least, “Hardhead.”
Hamlin missed four races earlier this year with a compression fracture in his lower back, the result of a wicked wreck at Auto Club Speedway in suburban Los Angeles.
In Sunday’s rain-delayed Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, Hamlin slammed into the Turn 4 wall at high speed and admitted he had his “bell rung.”
But like a durable Timex, Hamlin takes a licking and keeps on ticking. Less than 24 hours after his wreck at Kentucky, he took part in the first of a two-day tire test up the road at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in preparation for the July 28 Brickyard 400.
He was also slated to test Tuesday.
While he may not be invincible, Hamlin is bordering on indestructible. Even with the four-week layoff, he is doing everything in his power to still make this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.
The odds aren’t looking too good right now, however. Hamlin has nine races to make the Chase, is 281 points behind series leader Jimmie Johnson, and is 104 points out of the top 20 (Ricky Stenhouse Jr. currently holds that spot).
In addition, he has just three top-fives and one other top 10 in his 13 starts to date.
To make the Chase, Hamlin needs to do a number of things:
First, he has to climb into the top 20 (only those in the top 20 are eligible for the two wild card spots that qualify for the Chase). Given that he’s more than 100 points out now, nothing short of a top five or top 10 finish in the next nine races will do.
And that still may not be enough.
Second, he needs to win at least two races in the next nine. If he can pull off three triumphs, all the better, but it’s unlikely he’ll qualify for a wild card spot – even if he does climb into the top 20 before the start of the Chase – unless he starts winning.
Making matters worse, Hamlin has yet to visit victory lane thus far this season.
But there is some optimism to ponder: of the nine tracks upcoming, he’s won at six of them (four times at Pocono; twice each at Richmond, Loudon and Michigan; and once each at Atlanta and Bristol).
Add all those up and 12 of Hamlin’s 22 career Sprint Cup wins have been in the sweet spot of his season – and all upcoming.
Even though he complained of a headache after the Kentucky wreck, Hamlin still feels he can make the Chase – odds be damned.
“(I) definitely have to proceed on,” Hamlin was quoted in the Toyota post-race media transcript. “Really today it was the best performance for us in a while. Hopefully at least something to build off of even though we don’t have a good finish (35th).”
And even though he has so many obstacles to overcome, Hamlin is not giving up on making the Chase.
“We’re just going to try to win races and that’s what my job is for the rest of the year is to try to win and do the best I can for my sponsors and my team,” Hamlin said. “Really the biggest thing I was pushing for was to get my team into the Chase. Had an opportunity owner’s points-wise to get into the Chase and this is obviously another hit.”
And as for his ironhead or hardhead, Hamlin said of Sunday’s crash, “It’s very similar to Kansas of last year during the test day of the race weekend. Flat right side hit, especially, you are picking up a lot of speed off of (turn) four here.
“For me, it didn’t go down slowly like the tire did the first time — this one just blew out solid and quick. Obviously, when I lost steering I hit flat. I would rather hit head-on anywhere than flat up against the wall on these walls.”
If a driver would rather hit a wall head-on, he HAS to have a hard head, for sure.
Dec 11, 2013, 8:45 PM EST
After 11 teams contested this year’s Formula One World Championship, the FIA is now looking for a 12th franchise to join the F1 grid in either the 2015 or 2016 season. Potential entries have been asked to submit a formal expression of interest and an initial administration fee of $5,000 to the FIA by Jan.…
Dec 11, 2013, 7:15 PM EST
We may be on the verge of finding out who will replace the retired Dario Franchitti in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet (pictured) for the 2014 IndyCar Series. This afternoon, TCGR confirmed a press conference for tomorrow morning at the Performance Racing Industry trade show that’s currently ongoing in Indianapolis. The release…
Dec 11, 2013, 7:00 PM EST
The two-day Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Test at Barber Motorsports Park is in the books for all of Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000. This test marked the first time all three series ran together while on Cooper Tires, as Indy Lights makes the switch this offseason ahead of 2014, and all…
Dec 11, 2013, 5:43 PM EST
Still searching for ways to improve the on-track product on intermediate ovals, NASCAR staged a second test session today at Charlotte Motor Speedway that featured a series of simulated races for different aero packages in addition to traditional single-car runs. “One of the things that we learned and the reason we’re back here with so…
Dec 11, 2013, 4:11 PM EST
Former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Juan Pablo Montoya is no stranger to Phoenix International Raceway. But for his second round of IndyCar testing with Team Penske on Tuesday, he might as well have been. Because while it’s one thing to navigate “The Desert Jewel” with a heavy stock car, it’s quite another to do…
Dec 11, 2013, 3:07 PM EST
NASCAR has announced details of an executive restructuring, with former General Motors executive Brent Dewar being named as its new chief operating officer. Additionally, NASCAR has promoted three members of its executive management. Steve Phelps (senior vice president and chief marketing officer) and Steve O’Donnell (senior vice president of racing operations) have both been elevated…
Dec 11, 2013, 2:13 PM EST
In 2014, “The King” of the World of Outlaws will be going after the throne, one last time. Tony Stewart Racing has announced that Steve Kinser, a 20-time champion of the WoO STP Sprint Car Series, will make next year his final full season on the circuit. A year-long farewell tour – dubbed the “Salute…
Dec 11, 2013, 1:28 PM EST
As a young boy growing up, I watched a lot of NASCAR on Sunday afternoons and I always pulled for Dale Earnhardt in the famous Richard Childress Racing No. 3 car. I suppose I was drawn to the whole attitude that both he and that number represented – a tough, determined and strong attitude, no…
Dec 11, 2013, 12:44 PM EST
NASCAR’s worst-kept secret is finally official. Austin Dillon will move up to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series full-time in 2014 with Richard Childress Racing, and he’s bringing back the No. 3 to Cup for the first time since 2001. No driver – not even Dale Earnhardt Jr. – has raced with the No. 3 in…
Dec 11, 2013, 11:45 AM EST
With a grid of 69 confirmed cars for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, split between 29 prototypes and 40 GT cars, and a further nine cars listed as alternates, no one will suggest the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship is lacking quantity or quality of entrants in its four classes. Still, after compiling an entry list…
Dec 11, 2013, 11:00 AM EST
Now that we’ve completed our IndyCar and NASCAR season reviews, it’s time for us to focus on everything that went down from Albert Park to Interlagos in the 2013 Formula One World Championship. If you’ve been following us this off-season, you know the drill by now. We’ll start with our respective Top 5 stories of…
Dec 11, 2013, 10:15 AM EST
There really doesn’t appear to be much middle ground on Lotus F1′s Twitter account and the rest of its social media strategy. You either love it or hate it; personally, I choose the former but it does have its detractors. Still, after seeing the brilliance the team has come up with in response to F1′s…
Dec 11, 2013, 9:33 AM EST
Sauber has officially passed the 2014 homologation test with its new C33 chassis. Good news for the veteran Swiss team. “The chassis of the C33 has passed all static and dynamic tests of the FIA and is officially homologated. The rear crash test, which is not part of the chassis homologation, will take place separately at…
Dec 11, 2013, 12:11 AM EST
One day after the FIA named McLaren and Force India among the six teams taking part in next week’s Pirelli test session in Bahrain, both squads have pulled out of the three-day session. Among the multiple regulation changes that were released on Monday, the FIA granted Pirelli an opportunity to develop their 2014 tires at…
Dec 10, 2013, 8:17 PM EST
Former Red Bull Racing Formula One driver Mark Webber has closed out Porsche’s testing program for 2013 on its new LMP1 car that will debut next year in the World Endurance Championship. Webber, who announced his move to the WEC this past summer and closed out his F1 career with a runner-up in Brazil last…
Dec 10, 2013, 6:00 PM EST
Preliminary plans from Hulman & Co. to invest state funds into upgrades for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have been approved by the Indiana Motorsports Commission. The ambitious plans focus on three areas: track modifications, fan experience and technology. In regards to the track, upgrades identified include the installation of an apron for use in the…
Dec 10, 2013, 5:00 PM EST
IMSA and officials at Sebring International Raceway have confirmed Open Test dates in February for both the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. Both series will have morning and afternoon test sessions on both Thurs., Feb. 20, 2014 and Fri., Feb. 21, 2014 to prepare for the Mobil 1 12 Hours…
Dec 10, 2013, 4:05 PM EST
Darrell Wallace Jr., who became the first African-American driver to win a NASCAR national series race in almost 50 years this past October at Martinsville Speedway, is set to return to the Camping World Truck Series is 2014. Fox Sports’ Ray Dunlap said via Twitter this morning that Wallace will once again drive for Kyle…
Dec 10, 2013, 2:35 PM EST
In an interview with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, former Sprint Cup team owner James Finch (pictured, left, from 2009) announced his intentions to field a car for the 2014 Daytona 500. Finch sold Phoenix Racing in August to Harry Scott, Jr., a co-owner of NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series outfit Turner Scott Motorsports. But…
Dec 10, 2013, 2:00 PM EST
We ordinarily don’t touch too much on the automotive sector here on MotorSportsTalk, but two big pieces of news regarding General Motors have just come down in the last 24-plus hours. Via CNBC, on Monday the U.S. Treasury Department sold its final shares, and announced it had recovered $39 billion of the $49.5 billion it…
- Cost cap, double points for Abu Dhabi part of new FIA regulation changes (10)
- Austin Dillon officially confirmed in RCR’s No. 3 for Sprint Cup (7)
- NASCAR Nation must give Austin Dillon a chance to make his own legacy (7)
- Surprise (not really): Dale Jr. wins Sprint Cup Most Popular Driver award (5)
- New F1 rules announced Monday create more questions than answers (4)