Denny Hamlin said there is no need for concern with his No. 11 Toyota team after three weeks of disappointing finishes.
“No, just different racetracks and ones that we knew we had concerns with,” Hamlin said Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “Did we even have the right setup or splitter heights or anything? Really, our races have stemmed from getting behind in practice, and not showing up with the car hitting the racetrack, and things like that.”
Following his second win in the Daytona 500, Hamlin kept up his hot start to the season with eight top-11 finishes in the next eight races. That included a second victory of the season in Texas. Going into Talladega, Hamlin was third in the points and working on the statistically best start of his career.
It’s been downhill since.
Hamlin was caught up in the first crash of the day at Talladega on Lap 12 that severely damaged his Toyota. Taken out of contention, Hamlin retired from the race on Lap 80 after hitting the wall after blowing a tire.
In Dover, it seemed he and crew chief Chris Gabehart never got the car where it needed to be. Although Hamlin qualified eighth, he fought the car all afternoon, even falling off the lead lap at one point with an average running position outside the top 15. Hamlin hit the wall in the final stage and cut down a tire that took him off the lead lap.
Kansas brought more tire problems – he cut a right rear tire on Lap 61 to bring out the caution, and picked up two “lucky dog” free passes later in the race.
In the last three weeks, Hamlin has fallen to sixth in points with finishes of 36th, 21st, and 16th.
But Hamlin is looking forward: “As we go back to some of these tracks and get more data and tracks that are similar, you won’t have that issue in practice, and we’ll be a little bit closer when we get there.”