It’s been a rough Round of 12 in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship for Denny Hamlin.
In the first two races of the second round , he’s finished 30th (Charlotte) and 15th (Sunday at Kansas).
That leaves Hamlin below the Chase cutoff line heading to Talladega in 10th place, 43 points behind series leader Jimmie Johnson and six points short of eighth-ranked Joey Logano.
Even so, Hamlin is confident he can win at Talladega, which would advance him to the Round of 8.
“I’ve got confidence I can win every single week on the race track,” said Hamlin, who won this year’s Daytona 500. “It’s just – this is a team sport and you’ve got to have every facet of the car and the team all put together and we’ve just got to execute. I’ve got full confidence we can go to Talladega and win next week and we’ll show that when we get there.”
Crew chief Mike Wheeler also remains confident.
“We had a lot of challenges today, more than we were expecting,” he said. “We were hoping for a smooth day and a top-three finish and ended up having three or four issues, and battled back from all of them and had a top 15 out of it, which isn’t too bad. We still have a chance to go into next week and we’ll try to make the most of it.
“We knew going into Talladega that we would probably have to have a win to get in (to the Round of 8). At this point right now, we probably need that, but honestly if we go run top three, things can fall our way. It’s not going to stop us from doing the best we can and our speedway program is pretty good for us, so I’m actually okay with going there and looking forward to it.”
NBCSN will air live a press conference held by NASCAR industry stakeholders to discuss the upcoming 2017 season at 6 p.m. ET Monday.
The announcement will be attended by NASCAR executives, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers, NASCAR team representatives and NASCAR track representatives.
The press conference is being held at the Charlotte Convention Center.
Kurt and Kyle Busch are in Miami this weekend to take part in the international auto racing competition, Race of Champions. The exhibition event is two days and pits drivers from every major auto racing league against each other.
The Busch brothers are the only NASCAR representatives in the competition. They are joined multiple Formula One drivers, Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, Alexander Rossi, Ryan-Hunter Reay, James Hinchciffe and Tony Kanaan and action sports star Travis Pastrana. Prior to the start of the races, all of the drivers got psyched up together.
And right before the event began, Kurt Busch showed off his new No. 41 Monster Energy Ford by doing donuts in the middle of the race course.
But when it came time to race Kurt Busch’s had a tough day. He and former Formula One driver David Coulthard competed in the vehicles used in the NASCAR Euro Series and Coulthard crossed the finish line with a healthy lead over the Stewart-Haas Racing driver.
Kyle Busch was marginally better in his first race against F1 driver Jenson Button, who won but with the Joe Gibbs Racing driver right at Button’s rear wheel.
But Kyle Busch bounced back in his second race and defeated Hinchcliffe, which advanced him out of the first round. But he was eliminated from the competition when he was swept by Coulthard in the next round.
In Kurt Busch’s second race, he faced Hunter-Reay, who was one of his teammates when he competed in the 2014 Indianapolis 500. Busch won, but he wasn’t able to advance to the next round.
The competition was eventually won by Montoya, who is taking part in the Race of Champions for the first time.
Both Busch brothers will be back on Sunday to compete for the Nations Cup.
Kyle Busch is entered into the third annual SRL Winter Showdown, a Super Late Model race at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California.
Busch, who is competing in the Race of Champions this weekend in Miami, will drive the No. 51 Toyota Camry sponsored by JBL in the Feb. 11 race.
Busch and his competitors will be trying to claim the $30,000 prize for winning the race. Kyle Busch Motorsports had a presence in last year’s Showdown when Todd Gilliland competed for the team.
“They have a pretty strong field lined up again this year with Bubba Pollard coming back and trying to make it three-in-a-row. And then you add in some of the West Coast guys like Derek Thorn, David Mayhew and Noah Gragson, who will be running one of my trucks full-time this season, and it has a lot of great drivers,” Busch told Speed51.com. “One of the things that is going to be really cool is that this will be the first time that Erik Jones and I get to race against each other in the supers since he beat me in the Snowball Derby back in 2013.”
Busch is quite successful in his Super Late Model career, having won the Snowball Derby, CRA SpeedFest, the Oxford 250, the Winchester 400 and the Battle at Berlin in recent years.
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Last night, the NASCAR Hall of Fame inducted its eighth class, including Rick Hendrick, Richard Childress, Mark Martin, Benny Parsons and Raymond Parks.
The night was filled with current and future Hall of Famers celebrating the history of the sport and the lives of the five inductees.
MORE: Benny Parsons’ Hall of Fame induction an emotional celebration
MORE: Mark Martin went from a “broken man” to a Hall of Famer
Here’s a look at how the night played out on social media with observations on the inductees from current NASCAR drivers and one message from future NFL Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.
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