With stage points on the line, finishing well at the end of the race is now only part of the equation. No one knows this better than Denny Hamlin.
“We’re finishing well,” Hamlin told Nate Ryan on NASCAR America. “Even though we’re overcoming adversity, but obviously those speeding penalties and other things like that – we just have not got enough stage points and that has kind of put us behind in the standings.”
Hamlin sits eighth in the standings, 105 points above the cutoff line top make the playoffs, but with 15 regular-season races remaining, that can change quickly.
NASCAR America’s Steve Letarte agreed with Hamlin about his challenge: “I think Denny Hamlin has it absolutely right. Their performance is there, but he keeps using a word: ‘overcome.’ We overcame this, we need to overcome that…
“You look at his performance and it’s pretty decent. You compare him to other cars in the field when it comes to stage points – and you look at Clint Bowyer. Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin both have run pretty decent; they do ok – the difference being the penalties. The number one thing when it comes to Denny Hamlin is he has five penalties just in the first two segments.”
While Hamlin and Bowyer have an almost identical average finishing position in the first two stages, Hamlin has earned 22 fewer stage points.
And without a victory yet in 2018, that could prove to be critical.
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