You might have to start calling Denny Hamlin “Mr. Glue.”
After all, Hamlin has been heavily involved in discussion about the placement of PJ1 traction compound at various tracks that host Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, and on Saturday at Watkin s Glen, the driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota broke some news on the subject.
So far, only Speedway Motorsports tracks and independent Pocono have used the traction compound to widen the track, but Hamlin said an International Speedway Corporation venue may be next on the list.
“When I looked at the schedule and talked with NASCAR about it, Phoenix would probably be the next candidate for it, and that’s an ISC track,” Hamlin said before opening Cup practice.
This year, ISM Raceway in Phoenix will hold the final cutoff race in the series Playoffs. Next year, it will host the season finale to decide the champion.
“I think we might try something there later this year,” Hamlin said. “Just trying to get it right. Obviously, it’s really, really tough for NASCAR, because they’re not in the cars and even though they can kind of see the race and how it plays out, we as drivers know where the extra lane is that we can’t use.
“It’s kind of been up to me and some of my other peers to really (do) the sharing of pictures, videos and things like that. Since I can’t go to each race track, it’s really been helpful to kind of set the cones out to where you think you’re going to spray and drag. Then move the cones this way or that way or further or shorter. The communication has been really, really good, and it’s made for better racing.”
The traction compound made a significant difference at Pocono, which used the PJ1 for its second race. Most often, it helps to add a workable lane to a track that has been resurfaced during the past decade.
“Pocono, for the first time, I would venture to say more passes were made on the outside at Pocono than the inside, and that is a bottom-feeder race track and has been for many years,” said Hamlin, who used the outside lane for the winning pass in last Sunday’s victory there.
“It wasn’t perfect, but certainly was a step in the right direction, and it’s something we can now build on for next year. I’m excited about it. We found a very good Band-Aid for some of these tracks that have been pretty challenging as far as one lane.”
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