NASCAR’s current ladder system is designed to soften the transition from unsanctioned or regional stock car racing to an eventual ride in the Cup series. But when Denny Hamlin broke into the top tier in 2006, he had minimal experience at this level.
Hamlin won twice at Pocono in 2006 as a rookie, but that was far from what he expected.
“When I came into this sport, it was so hard because I came from winning almost every week in late model stocks,” Hamlin said. “One year later, I went from late models full time to Cup full time – in one year. And that was a different transition from being able to just show up and beat up on everyone to just – I considered running top 10 not good.”
Hamlin spent one full season in the Xfinity series – or the Busch series as it was known then – while running seven races in Cup in 2005. Getting tossed into the deep end of the pool like that, one of the most difficult things he had to face was readjusting his attitude.
“I remember Mike Forde sitting me down one time and saying ‘you’re gonna have to find happiness in a different way than just winning. You’re gonna have to find a way to be satisfied on good days that you might not think are good days.’ That was really good advice.”
Fast forward through 13 full time seasons, 31 victories and 138 top fives – and Hamlin has gained a greater appreciation for his successes.
“Later in my career, you cherish the wins more so now than ever because I believe the competition is as strong as it’s ever been and it’s tougher now to win than it’s ever been.”
For more, watch the video above.
Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.
NASCAR’s top three series are racing this weekend in two different locations. Cup and Craftsman Truck teams will compete at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, and the Xfinity Series will compete at Portland International Raceway.
World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway (Cup and Trucks)
Friday: Partly cloudy with a high of 87 degrees during Truck qualifying.
Saturday: Sunny. Temperatures will be around 80 degrees for the start of Cup practice and climb to 88 degrees by the end of Cup qualifying. Forecast calls for sunny skies and a high of 93 degrees around the start of the Truck race.
Sunday: Mostly sunny with a high of 92 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the Cup race.
Friday, June 2
(All times Eastern)
- 1 – 8 p.m. — Craftsman Truck Series
- 4 – 9 p.m. — Cup Series
- 6 – 6:30 p.m. — Truck practice (FS1)
- 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. — Truck qualifying (FS1)
Saturday, June 3
- 8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Cup Series
- 12:30 p.m. — Truck Series
- 10 – 10:45 a.m. — Cup practice (FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
- 10:45 a.m. – 12 p.m. — Cup qualifying (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
- 1:30 p.m. — Truck race (160 laps, 200 miles; FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
Sunday, June 4
- 3:30 p.m. — Cup race (240 laps, 300 miles; FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
Portland International Raceway (Xfinity Series)
Friday: Mostly sunny with a high of 77 degrees.
Saturday: Mostly sunny with a high of 73 degrees and no chance of rain around the start of the Xfinity race.
Friday, June 2
(All times Eastern)
- 6-11 p.m. — Xfinity Series
Saturday, June 3
- 11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. — Xfinity practice (No TV)
- 12 – 1 p.m. — Xfinity qualifying (FS1)
- 4:30 p.m. — Xfinity race (75 laps, 147.75 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
The severe penalty to Chase Briscoe and his Stewart-Haas Racing team Wednesday for a counterfeit part dropped Briscoe from 17th to 31st in the season standings. Briscoe now must win a race to have a chance at the playoffs.
The penalty came a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for his retaliation in wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600. Elliott is 28th in the points. The 2020 Cup champion also needs to win to have a chance to make the playoffs.
Ten drivers have won races, including Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney. That leaves six playoff spots to be determined by points at this time. With 12 races left in the regular season, including unpredictable superspeedway races at Atlanta (July 9) and Daytona (Aug. 26), the playoff standings will change during the summer.
Among those without a win this season are points leader Ross Chastain and former champions Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Elliott.
Here’s a look at the Cup playoff standings heading into Sunday’s Cup race at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois. Drivers in yellow have won a race and are in a playoff position. Those below the red line after 16th place are outside a playoff spot in the graphic below.
NASCAR fined crew chief John Klausmeier $250,000 and suspended him six races, along with penalizing Chase Briscoe and the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team 120 points and 25 playoff points each for a counterfeit part on the car.
The issue was a counterfeit engine NACA duct, said Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, on Wednesday. That is a single-source part.
The team stated that it accepts the L3 penalty.
“We had a quality control lapse and a part that never should’ve been on a car going to the racetrack ended up on the No. 14 car at Charlotte,” said Greg Zipadelli in a statement from the team. “We accept NASCAR’s decision and will not appeal.”
Asked how then piece could have aided performance, Sawyer said Wednesday: “Knowing the race team mentality, they don’t do things that would not be a benefit to them in some way, shape or form from a performance advantage.”
The penalty drops Briscoe from 17th in the season standings to 31st in the standings. Briscoe goes from having 292 points to having 172 points. He’ll have to win to make the playoffs. Briscoe has no playoff points at this time, so the penalty puts him at -25 playoff points should he make it.
Briscoe’s car was one of two taken to the R&D Center after Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 for additional tear down by series officials.
The penalty comes a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in last weekend’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Phoenix Raceway will host the championship races for the Cup, Xfinity, Craftsman Truck and ARCA Menards Series in 2024, NASCAR announced Wednesday.
The races will be held Nov. 1-3, 2024. The Cup season finale will be Nov. 3, 2024. The only other Cup race for 2024 that has been announced is the Daytona 500. It will be held Feb. 18, 2024.
Phoenix Raceway has hosted the championship finale for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks since 2020. Chase Elliott won the Cup title there in 2020. Kyle Larson followed in 2021. Joey Logano won the crown there in 2022.
This year’s Cup finale at Phoenix will be Nov. 5 and air on NBC.