“Secret” allies help Hamlin hold Chase berth

Denny Hamlin finished third Sunday. (Getty Images)
Deny Hamlin finished third Sunday. (Getty Images)
Deny Hamlin finished third Sunday. (Getty Images)

TALLADEGA, Ala. – With his three Joe Gibbs Racing teammates running at the back of the field throughout Sunday’s race to protect Round of 8 spots, Denny Hamlin had no obvious friends at the front of the field to help him join his teammates in the next round of the Chase.

But Hamlin revealed after finishing third behind Joey Logano and Brian Scott that he had received help from unexpected quarters in doing just enough to beat Austin Dillon for the final berth on a tiebreaker.

“I knew that strategy was going to be in play,” Hamlin said of the conservative game plan in place for Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch. “I mean, obviously, when you have three guys that realistically just don’t need to wreck to get in, and you have one that needs to go out there and almost win to get in, you can’t sacrifice the three guaranteed spots that you got to try to get one more in.  That would just be bad gamesmanship. Coach (team owner Joe Gibbs) knows a little better than that. I think he’s coached a few things before.

“So it was on me to go out there and do it. I mean, I had a few friends out there today—a lot of them that probably had manufacturer or team alliances that they broke. I won’t name names to get them in trouble, but they were very, very loyal to us today. That paid dividends, for sure.

“I just counted on my buddies to help me and hope that you earned some respect from some of those guys when they had to make a choice whether they were going to push you or somebody else. And luckily we had the right pushes when we needed them.”

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 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.