Dallas Motorsports: Denny Hamlin

TMS trivia: Amaze your friends!

April, 11, 2013

Want to impress your friends while hanging out at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday and Saturday? Here's a little bit of TMS trivia, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information:

FRONT RUNNERS: If you qualify in the top 10 at Texas Motor Speedway, you have a very good chance of winning. In 24 races since the track’s inaugural race in 1997, 18 winners have rolled off pit row from a top-10 starting spot, the highest win percentage of any track along with Sonoma. Richmond and Dover are next at 71.9 percent.

HOME AWAY FROM HOME: So who has the best chance of starting in the top 10 at Texas Motor Speedway? None other than Jimmie Johnson, who has started from inside the top 10 on 12 occasions in 19 races (63.2 percent), including both of his Texas wins. Greg Biffle (61.1), Kasey Kahne (58.8) and Mark Martin (54.2) are next.

CLIMBING THE LADDER: Enough about those at the front. That's easy, right? Now ... coming up through the field to win? That's an achievement. Matt Kenseth currently holds that honor, winning in 2002 after starting 31st. Denny Hamlin, however, proved he was no fluke, having swept both 2010 races from the 30th and 29th starting spots in the field. Carl Edwards (2005) also won from the 30th spot.

PHOTO FINISHES: Nothing beats the drama of a last-lap sprint to the checkered flag. Just ask Elliott Sadler, who edged Kasey Kahne by .028 seconds in 2004 for the closest Cup finish in TMS history. And if you want the opposing viewpoint, you can try to ask Jimmie Johnson, who was the runner-up in close finishes to Denny Hamlin (.152 seconds in 2010), Tony Stewart (.272 seconds in 2006), Jeff Gordon (.378 seconds in 2009) and Carl Edwards (.399 seconds in 2008). Venturing a guess, however: You need not feel overly sorry for "Five-Time."

WHICH WAY IS VICTORY LANE: Will there be a first-time Cup winner in Texas? It's happened twice before. Jeff Burton earned his first Cup victory at TMS in 1997. Burton, who started fifth, beat Dale Jarrett by 4.1 seconds to win in his 96th career race. Dale Earnhardt Jr. reached Victory Lane much quicker, winning at TMS in 2000 in just his 12th career race. Who'd Dale Jr. beat to the finish line? Why Jeff Burton, of course.

Tony Stewart a calming influence?

March, 14, 2012
Things I never thought I would hear:

*Texas Tech's football program chasing off the head coach that finally had them nationally ranked.

TMS president Eddie Gossage gives us the latest news in the world of racing, the huge month of sports and more.

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*The phrase, "World Champion Dallas Mavericks."

*The calming influence of three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart.

As confused as I am at Tech's self-inflicted wounds and as happy as I am for Mark Cuban's success with the Mavs, being told that Stewart brings a calming influence is perhaps the biggest surprise of them all.

The fiery Stewart, who once faced the wrath of NASCAR for supposedly pushing a photographer during a post-race altercation (a bit overblown, according to the photographer who said Stewart merely knocked him down by accident as he jogged from his race car to his team's truck during a post race media scrum), seems to be mellowing.

At least in some ways. Perhaps because he is now 40?

More likely because he's now a team owner.

New crew chief Steve Addington, who took over that job after Stewart fired crew chief Darien Grubb even though the two paired to win the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup, credits "Smoke's" calming influence as the reason for their win this past weekend in Las Vegas.

Grubb, now crew chief for Denny Hamlin, won the week before in Phoenix.

"It was neat to see him [Grubb] and Denny get a win last week," Stewart said. "It's neat to see me and Steve win this week. Hopefully it will calm everyone down."

Stewart preaching peace and happiness?

Cats and dogs living together as one.

It could happen.

Denny Hamlin holds on for Phoenix win

March, 4, 2012

Denny Hamlin held on for his 18th win in a Sprint Cup race and first at Phoenix. Read the story here.

Denny Hamlin ready to move on after 'extreme letdown'

February, 7, 2012
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Denny Hamlin is ready to get over last season with new crew chief Darian Grubb.

"Everyone knows our standards are set way high," Hamlin said. "Last year was an extreme letdown for our group."

Two seasons ago, Hamlin won eight races and finished second in the Sprint Cup standings. Last season, he won one race.

"We're not a ninth-place team, and I'm not a ninth-place driver," Hamlin said at the Gear Up for the Green Flag event at Texas Motor Speedway on Tuesday night.

Joe Gibbs Racing hired Grubb after letting former crew chief Mike Ford go in December. Hamlin said Grubb brought new energy to the No. 18 team.

"As much success as we had, it kind of ran its course," Hamlin said. "Everyone needed to get rejuvenated. It seemed like everyone was just going through the motions for the last couple years."

Grubb was the crew chief for Tony Stewart's Sprint Cup championship team last season.

NASCAR having its best season ever

November, 16, 2011

Epic. The best ever. The greatest of all time.

Thirty-five races down and one to go. We’ve made it to the final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Carl Edwards leads the standings by just three points over Tony Stewart and the two have 267 laps left to settle who will be crowned the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion.

NASCAR is in its best season ever. We’ve got two titans of the sport battling in the third-tightest point spread leading into the season finale. Edwards and Stewart have eliminated the remaining 10 Chase competitors from earning the 2011 title, and now it’s time to let them race it out on the track.

There are several championship-winning scenarios depending on where Edwards and Stewart finish Sunday. A win for either would mean the title, but if Edwards finishes ahead of Stewart, he earns the championship. In Stewart’s favor is his tiebreaker status (most wins), so he only needs to tie Edwards to win his third championship.

The stats for Edwards and Stewart at Homestead-Miami Speedway intensify the epic showdown even more, as each have two wins at the track. Stewart set the race record at 140.335 mph when he won the inaugural race in 1999 and earned his second win the following year. Edwards posted wins in 2008 and 2010.

Edwards and Stewart have brought out the best in each other, performing their finest when the season was on the line. They finished first and second at Texas, and second and third Sunday at Phoenix. Edwards’ last two finishes (second and second) and Stewart’s last two finishes (first and third) means both have an average finish of 2.0 in the last two races.

Since the inception of the position-based points system in 1975, only three drivers have made up a points deficit in the season finale: Richard Petty in 1979 (made up two points on Darrell Waltrip), Alan Kulwicki in 1992 (made up 30 points on Davey Allison) and Jimmie Johnson in 2010 (made up 15 points on Denny Hamlin). Just as the great duels between these racing prodigies, I hope people will look at this season down the road and say, “Wow. That was a good year.”

For now, I hope people will enjoy the competitiveness this season has brought. I also hope people will appreciate and respect what our defending champion Jimmie Johnson, who has five consecutive titles, has accomplished, because it will never happen again.

Epic. The best ever. The greatest of all time. Hyperboles in describing both the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season or the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title?

No. I think it stands up as simple fact.

Sprint Cup season already at fever pitch

May, 3, 2011

We're three months into the NASCAR Sprint Cup season and certain things remain the same and certain things are, well, shocking. Unprecedented. And interesting.

Which is exactly what NASCAR wanted when they jacked around with the point system back in the offseason.

Carl Edwards is on top of the point standings. No surprise considering how strong he finished the 2010 season.

Quietly, Jimmie Johnson is second. The only surprise here is how a guy that has won an unprecedented five straight championships races under the radar? But he has, winning only once this year.

Kyle Busch finally seems to be reaching the level everyone expected of him, as he sits third. Many believe the young Busch is the most talented driver in the sport. He's won lots of races in his brief career, but immature outbursts have marred the consistent performances needed to win titles. Perhaps he has matured to a championship level.

Perhaps most stunning: Dale Earnhardt Jr., is solid in fourth. This turnaround could be the story of the year.

Unless, of course, you discount the poor performance of Jeff Gordon, who has contended for the championship every season of his long career. He currently stands 19th but has one win. It's hard to imagine a championship race at the end of the year without Gordon, but it appears highly unlikely that he can make up the difference.

Denny Hamlin entered into the 2011 season with high hopes. Those hopes have dimmed to his current 13th in the point standings.

A.J. Allmendinger is a shocking 10th in the current points. Almendinger is a very talented driver, and Richard Petty Motorsports continues to show quantum leaps of improvement. But this is a position drivers in position 11-20 are eyeing as an opportunity.

Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman also reside in the top 10. All of them could win the title once The Chase begins.

Lots of racing to go until we settle in for the final 10-race slugfest to determine the champ, but this thing is interesting.

Denny Hamlin hoping TMS streak continues

April, 8, 2011
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Last year Denny Hamlin showed up at Texas Motor Speedway less than three weeks off surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament and won the Samsung Mobile 500, helping him push to a career-best second-place Sprint Cup finish.

After six races this season, Hamlin is in 19th place in the point standings looking for a kick-start to his 2011 season at TMS. He offered a unique possibility to get back to form.

“I probably need to re-injure [his knee] to be honest with you,” Hamlin joked.

Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota will feature a special paint job this weekend, created by twins Josh and Jake Aron on behalf of the March of Dimes. Hamlin hopes the paint job and his success at TMS – he won both races here last year – will end his current streak.

“I’m pretty sure we’re going to race well and finish well,” Hamlin said.

Scout's Eye: Samsung Mobile 500 at TMS

April, 8, 2011

As much as I enjoy the National Football League and covering the Dallas Cowboys for 103.3 FM ESPN and ESPNDallas.com, my true passion is auto racing, and especially Nascar. This weekend the Sprint Cup Series makes its first of two visits to the Great American Speedway and the running of the Samsung Mobile 500.

For the first time, the race will be competed under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway. Since speedway president Eddie Gossage was able to secure a second race date for Texas, the November race has started in the daylight but finished at night. Never has an entire race been run under the lights, and it will be interesting to see the different setups these crews use to dial their cars in.

Texas Motor Speedway is already one of the fastest tracks in the Sprint Cup Series and when the racing is done during the day, the track becomes hot and slick, making it even tougher to navigate. Under the lights, the grip and speeds will increase to serious levels. Crews do not have any real notes to go off of but might look to other mile-and-a-half tracks that run races at night -- such as Charlotte and Chicago -- for setups.

Something to also watch in Texas is the long green flag runs. If we see this type of action with fewer cautions, how will crews be able to make time for adjustments under green flag conditions?

Top 5 Drivers to Watch:

Carl Edwards
Kelvin Kuo/US PresswireCarl Edwards
1. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Fed Ex Office/March of Dimes

Hamlin swept the two Sprint Cup races at TMS in 2010. In 11 career starts at TMS, he has two wins and eight top-10 finishes. Hamlin started 29th and 30th in the field in his victories, a tribute to the strength of his team. Something to note: Joe Gibbs Racing has struggled with some engine issues. Word in the garage is they feel they've solved the problem, but it's something to watch.

2. Carl Edwards, No. 99 Scotts Turf Builder

Edwards comes into the race second in the Sprint Cup Series points standings. In six starts this year, he has a win and four top-10 finishes. Edwards is a three-time winner at TMS, and like Hamlin did in 2010, he swept the season races in 2008. Edwards is in the top 5 of total laps led at the speedway and is a master when it comes to stretching fuel mileage to finish a race. Something to note: In two of last three races at TMS, Edwards has suffered a DNF.

3. Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Crown Royal Black

Kenseth is the teammate of Carl Edwards at Roush Fenway Racing. He is ninth in the Sprint Cup Series but has not had the consistency of his teammate early this season. But when he passes through the tunnel at TMS, no matter how up and down his season has been, he will be a factor in that upcoming race. In 17 career races at TMS, Kenseth has a win and 11 top-10s. Not known as one of the better drivers when it comes to qualifying, Kenseth won the 2001 event when he was able to pilot his Ford from the 31st starting position -- the deepest a winner at TMS has ever started from. Something to note: Kenseth has finished in the top 10 every time he has started in the top 10 here.

Jimmie Johnson
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireJimmie Johnson
4. Jimmie Johnson. No. 48 Lowe’s

Jimmie Johnson is the model of consistency. The five-time defending Sprint Cup champion has made 15 starts at TMS, winning once with 11 top-10 finishes. Johnson has never started outside the 18th spot and had a string of six races in a row where he never started outside the top 8. Johnson has suffered only one DNF at TMS, and that was in the Spring race of 2007. It was in the fall race at TMS in 2010 where Johnson’s crew chief Chad Knaus sent a message to his team after several poor pit stops by switching his crew out for members of Jeff Gordon’s team during the middle of the race after Gordon had crashed out. Johnson went on to finish ninth in that day. Something to note: In eight of Johnson’s 15 starts at TMS, he has failed to lead a single lap. When he won the fall race in 2007, he only led nine laps.

5. Mark Martin, No. 5 Go Daddy.com

Mark Martin knows how to get around Texas Motor Speedway. Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon and Bobby Labonte are the only other drivers to compete in all Sprint Cup Series races run at this facility. In 20 career starts, Martin has one victory and 12 top-10s. In his last four races at TMS, he has finished no worse than sixth. Martin is at his absolute best at the finish of races. In 2011, of a possible 1,987 laps, he has yet to miss a lap. Martin is first in the Sprint Cup Series in that stat, one lap ahead of Kyle Busch. Something to note: Martin has finished 18 straight races at TMS. The only race that he received a DNF was his first one in 1997. He found himself in teh winner's circle the following spring.

Others to watch: Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart

Denny Hamlin, who swept last season's Sprint Cup races at Texas Motor Speedway, sits down with TMS president Eddie Gossage for a Q&A session.

Why race under the lights? Fireworks

April, 5, 2011
For the first time since the place opened in 1997, Texas Motor Speedway is going Sprint Cup racing under the lights on Saturday. The Samsung Mobile 500 probably will draw the biggest crowd ever to see a sports event in Texas on a Saturday night.

Denny Hamlin had a bang-up time in the November 2010 Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.
TMS has enjoyed huge crowds and a lot of success with its Sunday Cup races, so why did track president Eddie Gossage decide to move the April event to Saturday night?

"I'm the original night-race guy," Gossage said Monday. "When I started working at Nashville in 1980, we were the only track with two nighttime Cup races.

"I worked at Bristol and we always had the one night race, and I was at Charlotte when the All-Star Race became a night event in 1992. Night racing is my thing. To me, it was the best thing we could do to keep the event fresh."

For more of this story by Texas Motorsports Hall of Famer Terry Blount, click here.

Denny Hamlin learns from 2010

March, 2, 2011

FORT WORTH -- NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin won't dwell on the negatives of barely missing a championship in a memorable Chase duel with Jimmie Johnson in 2010.

Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage joins Ben and Skin to detail the upcoming NASCAR circuit and TMS Media Day.

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"I think we have to look at the positives," Hamlin said Wednesday at TMS Media Day. "We ran the Chase we wanted to except for that last race and that's how we have to look at it. We want to build off it."

Hamlin said that doesn't mean his team didn't step back and analyze what they could have done better in 2010.

"It starts with qualifying," Hamlin said. "There were times we didn't qualify as well as we could have and that would have put us in better position."

Hamlin said he's looking forward to coming to Texas in early April. He won both races at TMS in 2010, winning the spring race 16 days after surgery to repair a torn ACL (he tore it playing basketball). That race was a springboard to his season. His victory in the Fall put him in the points lead, though temporarily.

Hamlin has been in Texas a few times this year already. He came in for the Super Bowl and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban even let him play some pickup basketball at American Airlines Center. Hamlin said he was back on a court about seven months after his surgery, so the leg healed well.

"Believe me you'd rather break just about any bone in your body than have a torn ACL," Hamlin said.

But he's recovered nicely. And now he's got his sights set on winning his first championship.

TMS Media Day: Danica Patrick and more

March, 2, 2011
Texas Motor Speedway will host its annual media day today in preparation for the Samsung Mobile 500 under the lights on Saturday, April 9. The festivities begin at 12:30 p.m. Dallas time and you can watch it here.

Ben & Skin will be on live on 103.3 ESPN from the event and you can check back here on the blog all day for updates.

Among the items on the program:

* Rules for the Firestone Twin 275s IZOD IndyCar Series race. This year's event features two races and we'll know more about how all of that will work today.

* Q&A sessions with Danica Patrick and Denny Hamlin.

* Other guests include: Johnny Rutherford (three-time Indy 500 champ), local NASCAR drivers David Starr (Flower Mound) and James Buescher (Plano), Texas-based NASCAR team owners Steve Turner (Turner Motorsports, Houston) and Bob Leavine and Lance Fenton (Leavine Fenton Racing, Tyler).

Denny Hamlin, Rusty Wallace on Cup Chase

November, 19, 2010
NASCAR's Denny Hamlin looks ahead to the final race of the season and weighs in on the tight battle for the Chase title.

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ESPN NASCAR analyst Rusty Wallace talks about what Jimmie Johnson has to do to win his fifth straight Sprint Cup. Wallace predicts a win for Denny Hamlin.

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Postrace audio: AAA 500 at TMS

November, 8, 2010
Denny Hamlin addresses the media after winning the AAA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway and taking first place in the Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship.

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Jeff Gordon talks to reporters after he took to blows with Jeff Burton due to the crash that knocked him out of the AAA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

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Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage recaps the AAA 500 and its potential impact on the Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship.

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Championship drama plays out at TMS

November, 2, 2010

It may be championship weekend this week for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Texas Motor Speedway.

Brad Keselowski has a commanding 485-point lead over Carl Edwards in the NASCAR Nationwide Series standings. All he has to do is start the last three races of the 2010 season. But a finish of 21st or better in Saturday’s O’Reilly Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway will clinch the first NASCAR championship of Keselowski’s career.

Significantly, it will become the first NASCAR championship for team owner Roger Penske. He has won 12 Indy Car national championships and 15 Indianapolis 500 titles through the years – both records – but has never won a NASCAR championship of any kind. The closest Penske has come was 1993, when Rusty Wallace finished runner-up to Dale Earnhardt for the NASCAR Cup Series title.

In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, point leader Todd Bodine can’t clinch at Texas. He maintains a 216-point lead over Aric Almirola following a somewhat disappointing 18th-place finish at Talladega Saturday. Bodine, though, could drive a stake through the heart of his competitors here at Texas. He has won six times at “The Great American Speedway” and has an average finishing position of 6.58. That’s strong.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has an extremely tight three-way point battle going on coming to Texas. Jimmie Johnson holds a razor-thin 14 point lead over Denny Hamlin. Third-place Kevin Harvick is only 38 points out of first. Any of the three could easily leave Texas with the point lead, heading into the final two events of the season.

One championship could be resolved, one championship could become clearer and one championship could be turned upside down this weekend.