With his Chase spot clinched after his seventh place finish at Michigan International Speedway and Gordon’s win, Denny Hamlin is looking to add another victory on the season and at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday night.
BMS presents a perfect opportunity for Hamlin to add another set of bonus points when the Chase resets after Richmond.
It all starts in qualifying on Friday. Hamlin has shown strength in the last two races at BMS, he has started on the pole. In the spring, Hamlin finished sixth. Last fall, Hamlin got caught in a late race wreck and finished 28th.
“For us, we have worked really hard on our short track program this year, and believe we have gotten our FedEx cars better on the smaller tracks. The short tracks definitely suit my driving style, and we have had some success at Bristol over the years. Obviously, we have been strong in qualifying the past two races, but really haven’t challenged for the win since 2012. Hopefully we can go there this weekend, start up front and compete for another Bristol trophy, one of the coolest in the sport.”
Hamlin’s win in 2012 goes along with his eight top 10 finishes and has led 496 laps in 17 races at the track.
Hamlin has always shown strength on the short tracks throughout his career. Joe Gibbs Racing has shown plenty of strength over all the last few years with Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Hamlin all having success at BMS.
The struggles this season has come on the larger tracks and even after MIS the organization knows they have work to do to catch up to Hendrick Motorsports and Team Penske. Hamlin on Sunday touched on that after his sixth place finish and after a conversation with Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
"I'm trying to fight -- do everything I can -- to keep up with the Hendrick engines," Hamlin said after the race. "I'm side-drafting down the straightaway, trying to do everything I can. Not things I frown upon when I see other drivers do them. We're trying to do everything we can to keep our track position.”
Saturday night is a big race for Hamlin and his team. The next three weeks are all tracks where Hamlin has had plenty of success. A win Saturday night will go a long way in improving their seeding come Chicago but also help build momentum as they close out the regular season.
With winning all that matters, Saturday night is as good as any place to start for Hamlin and his team.