RPW Column: On-On-One With Denny: Hamlin Sees Opportunity With Bracket; Looks At Dover & Loop Data

Column By: MARTY CZEKALA / RPW – DOVER, DE – Denny Hamlin is a man full of brand-new ideas and has won the fans’ respect for it.

In a recent episode of his new podcast “Actions Detrimental” on Dirty Mo Media, Hamlin had an idea for a midseason bracket tournament. From the races 11-15 on the year, the top 32 in points would compete in a five-week midsummer tournament, single elimination with $3 million to win.

Hamlin believed the drivers would be wildly competitive for this to try to not only go for points, but also try and beat an opponent.

Many drivers and fans have responded positively to it.

“There’s an opportunity there for the Series to look at it,” Hamlin told RPW Saturday. “You’re not changing the racing at all, just changing storylines and adding content.”

Hamlin got the idea from a former marketing campaign NASCAR did along with Directv called the NASCAR Head2Head Knockout, offering a much similar format. The competition in 2010 and 2011 offered $1 million to any consumer who filled out a perfect bracket and $400,000 to a driver’s charity of choice.

“I think that we’re seeing it in other sports,” Hamlin said. “NBA has a play-in tournament. It’s certainly compelling especially when there’s a big prize in the end.”

The driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 enters the weekend at Dover ninth in points with 272 and is looking for his first win of the season to lock him into the Playoffs. He is currently 43 points above the cut line.

Hamlin is the last Toyota to win at “The Monster Mile” in 2020 and comes in with a lot of motivation to try and get a Camry in victory lane.

“We’re confident that we’ll have a fast car,” Hamlin said. “I thought in practice we had a car similar to what we had last year to what we dominated the first stage in. The track is gonna change so much from what we ran [Saturday] to what we’re actually gonna race.”

In practice, a lot of drivers had tire issues with the green track, including Hamlin.

“I think everyone did if you ran enough laps,” Hamlin said. “I think once we get racing, it shouldn’t get too bad.”

Hamlin has also been critical of NASCAR’s loop data recently. At Talladega, NASCAR stated there were 308 green flag passes for the lead, the most ever since the stat was tracked beginning in 2004.

“I didn’t think it was really real,” Hamlin said. “Anytime you get a package or car where you can run two by two and can’t really go anywhere, you’re going to get a lot of inflated numbers. As long as you count them at the start/finish line, you’ll have a fair metric and don’t involve pit stops, as that can certainly skew things.”

There were 57 official lead changes in the race.

The Würth 400 will now take place Monday with the green set to fly at noon.

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