WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – If Denny Hamlin gets the word that he is becoming a father for the second time, he won’t be hanging around Watkins Glen International for long.
Even if he’s behind the wheel of the No. 11 Toyota.
“As far as I’m concerned if and when I get the call I’ll go just immediately,” the Joe Gibbs Racing driver said Saturday between Cup practices at the 2.45-mile track. “It really doesn’t matter to me when it particularly is. I mean, short of it being in the pace laps, then I would try to run one lap and then come in, but any other time I would just go right away. I’m not really sure how it all will work, but I assume that my people will be gotten a hold of as soon as I need to go.”
Hamlin’s jet is on standby if word comes from his girlfriend, Jordan, who is due to give birth to their second child Thursday.
Regan Smith, who is a “super sub” of sorts in NASCAR’s premier series, is at Watkins Glen in case Hamlin needs a relief driver.
NASCAR rules stipulate that a driver must attempt to start every race in order to maintain playoff eligibility, but it has granted waivers in the past to drivers who haven’t run the full season.
Hamlin, who is qualified for the playoffs through his victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway a couple of weeks ago, said he hasn’t asked whether he would be granted dispensation.
“I thought about it this morning, but no, I haven’t quite asked what the rules are,” he said, “but I’m assuming it would be allowed.”