INDIANAPOLIS – Despite a few tweets during Wednesday night’s Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway, Denny Hamlin isn’t down on dirt racing.
“I actually would like to run that race next year if anybody is willing to give me a truck ride,” Hamlin said Friday.
But he doesn’t want to race a Cup car there – or at any short track whose pit area appears as cramped as he thought Eldora’s seemed to be after a nine-truck crash on the 19th lap of the Dirt Derby.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver clarified his Twitter exchange with Clint Bowyer (“we like to give each other crap at times,” Hamlin joked) over the worthiness of the half-mile oval, which opened in 1954, for playing host to NASCAR’s premier series.
“My simple point is it’s so hard,” he said. “I was watching the race, and guys were trying to fix their trucks on pit road, and it was kind of a mess. I was simply saying I’m all for short tracks, I wish we had 36 of them every single week, but it’s hard to come in to a place that only hosts one time a year, and especially a local short track, and put on a big event and make it look organized.”
Hamlin said he still enjoyed watching Wednesday’s race.
“Eldora has done an amazing job, their facility is second to none, and it was a pretty damn good race at the end, so it was pretty exciting from my standpoint,” he said. “We’re not going to go forward if we try to go backward, you know what I mean? We’ve got to move this sport forward. A place like Eldora is a great place, but you just can’t go back to the old racetracks.”
Hamlin said he mainly wanted to call attention to the unrealistic hopes of running a big-league race at a defunct oval such as North Wilkesboro Speedway, adding that smaller tracks would be limited because “the Truck Series brings a certain amount of carnival to the racetrack. The Cup Series brings a much bigger carnival, and how does that really work?”
During this week’s NASCAR on NBC podcast, Eldora Speedway general manager Roger Slack said a Cup race at the track was feasible but would require overcoming some logistical hurdles.