Denny Hamlin says he would be for NASCAR issuing harsher penalties

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RICHMOND, Va. — Denny Hamlin knows the image looks odd.

The most recent driver to have a win encumbered after his car failed inspection is advocating for harsher penalties in NASCAR.

“As long as it’s the same for everyone, I think that’s key,’’ Hamlin said Friday at Richmond Raceway. “Make sure that when someone else is in there with the same violation, it gets the same penalty and treatment even if it’s in the playoffs. Obviously, it’s negative publicity for everyone involved, so I just hope that it’s the same. I’m fine with taking wins away. Nothing wrong with that.”

Hamlin won the Xfinity and Cup races last weekend at Darlington Raceway only to find out a few days later that both cars failed inspection at the NASCAR R&D Center. The runner-up car in the Xfinity race also failed inspection. 

The result of the Darlington Cup infraction is that Hamlin is in Richmond without crew chief Mike Wheeler (suspended two races) and fans have clamored on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio for series officials to do more with such penalties.

NASCAR is considering stripping wins next year, NBC Sports’ Nate Ryan reported on NASCAR America this week.

Hamlin said the issue was discussed by the Drivers Council before.

“I think we brought something up maybe in the off-season … taking away points that you’ve already earned for the playoffs above and beyond not getting the points for that particular race,’’ Hamlin said.

“I’m all for harsher penalties for parole violators, you know what I mean? If you do it on a constant basis, you definitely should be penalized for it. As far as whether you should take away wins, black or white, be subjective, it’s tough because this particular part of the car, I don’t know if it’s really black and white. There’s been others that have been very gray, and they’ve said, ‘Okay, that’s good.’ Then ours is not good.

“I don’t know what the line is, where you take wins away. I think there should be parts of the car maybe that they distinguish – your motor, your tires, maybe rear suspension, stuff like that, major items that  maybe wins get taken away, or aero advantages that probably should be taken away as well.”

As for Hamlin’s penalty, he said it wasn’t intentional.

“We didn’t start the race with an illegal car,’’ he said. “It worked its way that way. When I say, ‘It worked its way,’ it was so close, but so close doesn’t matter. It was still over the line.

If it can be that close, why take the risk?

“The reason people work in those areas is because there’s speed there,’’ Hamlin said. “That’s why we always fight for every inch and every quarter and every thousandth of an inch on every part of the car, whether it be under the car or above it. So it’s a tough game and you got to be willing to take the consequences when you pass over that line that gets drawn in the sand.”

For those who say such action is cheating, what is Hamlin’s response?

“How many wins does Richard Petty have?’’ Hamlin said rhetorically. “200? One of those was with a big block (engine), so does he really have 199? I mean, listen, my advice to those who say this or that is all the old school fans have been watching NASCAR forever, your driver cheated at some point in their career and they got away with it. The difference is it was inches, not thousandths. They didn’t measure that stuff back then. It’s just a tighter box that we live in today.’’

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Driver-to-Driver with Jimmie Johnson: ‘I’ve got a lot to prove still’

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Jimmie Johnson is in his 17th year of full-time Cup racing and is in the midst the longest winless streak of his career at 42 races.

But the seven-time champion’s competitive drive is as strong as ever.

Johnson sat down with NBC Sports’ Dale Jarrett to discuss his career at this point in the latest edition of Driver-to-Driver.

“I can honestly say I spend more time now than I did my rookie year focusing on my job,” Johnson said. “I think that the support I have from my wife (Chandra), my kids are 7 and 4, to have them watch me be passionate about something has another meaning I didn’t anticipate coming. I’m lovin’ what I’m doing. I wish the results were a little better than what we have right now, but the process of what I’m going through is really fun.”

Hendrick Motorsports as a whole is in a slump. The team is in the middle of the second longest winless streak in its history at 35 races.

Johnson admits it’s hard to know when the right time will be for him to retire.

“The thing I can pull out of it is, don’t pick a number, make sure that fire’s gone out and that fire hasn’t gone out,” Johnson said. “The other thing that’s weighing on me, I don’t want to go out not at my fullest potential and not on my terms. The last thought that’s going to run through my mind is to walk away or, ‘Oh, it’s not going right, time to stop.’ Uh uh. I know I still got it. I’m going to go down swinging. I’ve got a lot to prove still.”

Watch the above video for more.

 

New Hampshire Cup race underway after rain delay

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The Foxwoods Resort & Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway is underway after a three hour and 24 minute rain delay.

The race had been scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET. The green flag waved at 4:24 p.m. ET

Kurt Busch started from the pole and Martin Truex Jr. started second.

Staff picks for today’s Cup race at New Hampshire

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Here’s a look at who the NBC Sports staff is picking to win today’s Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Nate Ryan

Denny Hamlin. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver rediscovers his magic here and locks into the playoffs.

Dustin Long

Martin Truex Jr. wins back-to-back races for the first time in his career.

Daniel McFadin

Kevin Harvick earns a career-best sixth win of the season.

Dan Beaver

Martin Truex Jr. is getting into the same groove he had last year. This week he catches Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch. Next week, he starts to pull away,

Today’s Cup race at New Hampshire: Start time, lineup and more

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The Cup Series holds its only race of the year at New Hampshire Motor Speedway today with the Foxwoods Resort & Casino 301.

Kurt Busch starts on the pole and Martin Truex Jr. starts second.

Here’s all the info you need for today’s race.

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given by Jean Swift, treasurer of Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Counsel, at 12:51 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 1 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 301 laps (318.46 miles) around the 1.058-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 75. Stage 2 ends on Lap 150.

COMPETITION CAUTION: Lap 35

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at 7:30 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 11 a.m. Driver introductions are at 12:05 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Vanessa Salvucci will perform the anthem at 12:45 p.m. The Canadian National Anthem will be performed by Kirk Young at 12:42 p.m.

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will broadcast the race beginning at 1 p.m. Coverage begins at noon with Countdown to Green on NBCSN. Performance Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at noon p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will have PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for a high of 70 degrees and a 78 percent chance of rain and storms at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Denny Hamlin won this race last year over Kyle Larson. Kyle Busch won the playoff race over Larson.

TO THE REAR: Landon Cassill (backup) and Michael McDowell (backup).

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the complete starting lineup.