Hamlin’s rain plan

Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Autism Speaks Toyota, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway on June 1, 2012 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Autism Speaks Toyota, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway on June 1, 2012 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images for NASCAR)

DOVER, Del. — Meteorology may not be Denny Hamlin’s primary field of expertise, but the driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota is taking no chances with an iffy weather forecast for Saturday.

Both Hamlin and teammate Kyle Busch made strong qualifying runs during Friday’s first Sprint Cup practice at Dover, placing them second and fourth on the speed chart.

If qualifying takes place as scheduled on Saturday afternoon, Hamlin and Busch will go out late in the session, a disadvantage on a presumably hotter and slicker track than the slower cars in practice will see earlier in the day.

If rain washes out qualifying, however, those with the fastest cars in Friday’s opening practice will start up front in Sunday’s FedEx 400 — second and fourth, respectively, in the cases of Hamlin and Busch.

While others sandbagged first practice to get an earlier draw, Hamlin hedged his bet and didn’t try to manipulate his position in the qualifying order.

“The weather is really the only reason why you wouldn’t try to change your position,” Hamlin explained. “If it gets rained out, you don’t want to get caught by the rain (with a poor starting spot), and obviously there’s a greater chance (of rain on Saturday).

“That’s why we tried to go as fast as we could (on Friday) to ensure — if for some reason we don’t qualify — we at least have a good position.”

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.