Denny Hamlin continues to show strength and gain momentum in NASCAR Sprint Cup by taking his second victory in a row and his first at Michigan International Speedway. That makes his fifth victory on the season and places him third in the points for the Chase. Some are already saying he is the one to beat for the Cup Championship in 2010 and they may be right.
I say, however, let’s not rush into things. I do admit it is hard to argue with the performance of the #11 FedEx Toyota from JGR and it does appear they have hit on something that gives them an advantage over the rest at the moment. I also know this is NASCAR and that fortunes can just as quickly turn in someone else’s direction and it can happen this coming week at Sonoma. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying it will, but I am saying it could.
One thing about racing, if you think you’ve got everyone one covered, you just think you’ve got everyone covered. There’s only thing you can rest assured of if you are leading a lot like the JGR and Penske teams are at the moment and that is there are a bunch of people gunning for them and just as determined to be the ones putting it to the rest just like those teams are at the moment.
There is a lot to be said however about the “Big Mo” (momentum) and even though I know that Joe Gibbs racing is not sitting back resting on their laurels, no one else is either. The Richard Childress, Roger Penske and Earnhardt/Ganassi Teams are just as determined to get “Big Mo” on their side as soon as possible. Let’s not forget the Hendrick teams either. They may not be showing a lot of strength at the moment, but we all know they can start stringing things together at any time.
At the moment, I have mixed feelings about the Roush teams along with Richard Petty Motorsports. Although this last weekend proved the new Ford FR9 engine does give them back some of the power they’ve been lacking recently, it was fairly obvious the Ford teams have two problems to work out, and soon. They need to be able to keep the engines cool and they need to get more of that added horsepower hooked up to the track. Once that happens, the only ones that won’t be competitive in NASCAR Sprint Cup will be the “start and parks.”
As a NASCAR fan, I have to say one thing about Michigan. To me it is one of the least exciting races on the NASCAR circuit and it is through no fault of anyone except that the track has several racing grooves and it is an extremely fast track. If one car has a tenth or so extra speed on all the rest, it doesn’t take long for that car to pull away and give the race an air of boredom. Even though the speeds are up, the on-track excitement is a little low on the adrenaline meter. When someone has a car like Kurt Bush, Kasey Kahne and Denny Hamlin all had on Sunday afternoon there was very little doubt that one of them was going to win and it was just a matter of who got out front in the clean air and could stay there. After that it was all over but the possibilities of mistakes during pit stops; (well, that and some team-mates trying to wreck each other way back in the pack.) At Michigan, there generally aren’t that many cautions or unscheduled pit stops anyway. The yellows fell just right this year to make the possibility of fuel being important to it becoming a non-issue, unlike last year.
It’s just my opinion, but it seems to me that Denny Hamlin thinks NASCAR still throws debris cautions just to try and make the fans leave a little more excited about the end of the race than they might have had there not been one near the end. I gathered that in listening to his post race interview. I have to disagree with his thoughts on the subject simply because, even with it, he completely dominated the field for at least the final quarter of the race and there was very little doubt, unless something really out of the ordinary happened, he was going to win. (So what else is new?)
As it stands after this weekend, he and his #11 FedEx JGR team have five victories on the year so far and if the Chase started next week he would be in the number one point position with those 50 bonus points. So far, it looks like they are on a roll.
I wonder… if he wins a couple of more races, will he get blamed for the lack of interest in NASCAR racing instead of Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus? Nah… probably not…
See ya next time… Rusty
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 14, 2010 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and NascarFansView.com
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