Hamlin: Daytona 500 risks being “strung out” due to Next Gen draft

Three-time Daytona 500 Denny Hamlin believes this Sunday's NASCAR Cup season-opener could become “strung out pretty wide” during long green-flag periods.

Hamlin: Daytona 500 risks being “strung out” due to Next Gen draft

Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driver Hamlin reported that he struggled to stay in the draft during Thursday night’s Duel race.

This was after he’d spun entering the pit lane, meaning he starts deep in the pack in 30th position for the first points-scoring race of NASCAR's Next Generation era.

“There’s a lot of factors that goes into cars losing the draft,” said Hamlin.

“I tried my best – I lined up and did everything I was supposed to do. I was at the tail end – this is once I got lapped by the Toyotas because I was trying to push them forward – and I couldn’t hang on.

“There’s nothing I could’ve done short of telling the person in front of me where to run on the racetrack to allow me to stay in there, but you can’t do it.”

PLUS: Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season

Hamlin explained that four cars is the ideal number for a small pack to pull away from those behind. On new tyres, cars will stay connected in a powerful long drafting line, but over a longer stint those at the back will gradually fall off the pace.

“These cars lose so much engine power behind others,” Hamlin added.

“It’s tough. It looks like four is the number. You can stay in the tail end of the four-car [draft], but once it gets to five the speeds kick up where that last car is really in trouble.

Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry FedEx Express

Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry FedEx Express

Photo by: Jasen Vinlove / NKP / Motorsport Images

“While we can say that the race can look like this or that or there’s only half the field [in the Duels], I do think a lot of the elements that you saw [on Thursday] will happen on the Sunday where the field gets strung out pretty wide.”

During Daytona Speedweeks so far, Ford has impressed the most of NASCAR’s three manufacturers by topping all practices so far and winning both of the Duels that ran green for almost their entirety.

Each of those races was decided between a four-car pack of Fords, and Hamlin added that manufacturer-specific designs plays a key role in how hard drivers can bump draft each other.

“Every manufacturer is different,” he said.

“A lot of it is shapes of cars. As you know the sides of these cars, the bumpers of these cars look a lot different for each manufacturer.

“All of them will be able to bump draft or push draft or whatever differently.

“I don’t know that you could really throw a blanket statement over all of the cars because they are so different, but certainly some bodies lend themselves better to this type of racing than others.”

shares
comments

Related video

Logano takes blame for "dumb mistake" that caused Daytona duel shunt
Previous article

Logano takes blame for "dumb mistake" that caused Daytona duel shunt

Next article

Hendrick signs Chase Elliott to five-year contract extension

Hendrick signs Chase Elliott to five-year contract extension
The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team Plus

The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team

Saddled with uncompetitive Minardi machinery, Tarso Marques didn't manage to score points in his three partial seasons of Formula 1. But now the Brazilian has the chance to show what he can do in NASCAR, and explains the story of his comeback with new Cup Series entrant Team Stange

Formula 1
Apr 13, 2022
The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car Plus

The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car

NASCAR’s new stock car generation is encouraging an influx of fresh blood into its top tier. But there are concerns that parts are in short supply as the entire paddock tries to build up stocks at the same time

NASCAR
Feb 22, 2022
How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style Plus

How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style

After holding his nerve and hip-checking his team-mate on the run to the line, Austin Cindric made a perfect start to life as a full-timer in the NASCAR Cup Series by winning the Daytona 500. Here's how the Penske Ford man emerged first across the line in the first points-scoring race for the much-anticipated Next Generation cars

NASCAR
Feb 21, 2022
Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season Plus

Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season

There are plenty of uncertainties ahead of the 2022 NASCAR Cup season as an all-new fleet of cars take to the track for the first time. Ahead of this weekend's Daytona 500, our experts explain what you need to know

NASCAR
Feb 17, 2022
How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of its Next Gen arrival Plus

How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of its Next Gen arrival

The NASCAR Cup kicks off with the Daytona 500 this weekend, but a major overhaul and a subsequent mountain of work has been required to be ready for the arrival of the Next Gen cars

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2022
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Plus

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson’s journey to the 2021 NASCAR Cup title comes straight from the Hollywood blockbuster scripts. While Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines for both the right and the wrong reasons

NASCAR
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Plus

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup Series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Plus

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR
Oct 5, 2021