By Tuesday morning, slightly a day and a 1/2 after the NASCAR flagman fluttered his checkered fabric above Denny Hamlin’s successful Toyota racer, the Daytona 500 become already the ghost of triumphs beyond for the winning driver. Hamlin, who grew up in Chesterfield County and whose racing profession started out on Virginia’s short tracks, become in New York City going through the annual media drill for every winner of the 500. He made a lighthearted TV appearance that morning on “Live with Kelly and Ryan,” searching comfortable in jeans and a informal blouse.
He laughed about his true fortune fending off the astonishing multicar crashes in the late laps. He did the compulsory interviews, a few in individual, others via cellphone, along with one with a columnist writing for his place of origin newspaper. But Hamlin was already questioning ahead. He become targeted on the second race of the season, Sunday’s 500-miler on the 1½-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway, a race that shapes up to be a most intriguing NASCAR Cup Series occasion. It’s the first race with a brand new policies package deal devised through NASCAR. Every on-tune second will be counted, beginning with the Cup vehicles’ beginning exercise scheduled for 11:35 a.M. Friday. The adjustments in horsepower and aerodynamics are purported to make for near racing, something that has regularly not been the case on NASCAR’s many 1½-mile speedways in recent seasons. All too frequently, the motors were so aero-sensitive that the lead car in “smooth air” had an insurmountable gain over the ones trailing in “grimy air.” Test classes the use of the new policies bundle drew combined reviews. Some drivers stated the changes will make the vehicles too smooth to power at places like the Atlanta tune, eliminating the top rate on riding ability. Other drivers stated closer racing will call for masses of talent and enthusiasts will appreciate that. Hamlin, who didn’t participate inside the trying out, turned into eager to get at the Atlanta song to find out for himself. “I’m looking forward to Atlanta,” he stated. “It’s surely going to be interesting. The engines were cut back two hundred horsepower (from 750 to 550). That’s a big deal. I haven’t gotten to power it (the new rules bundle) yet.” He stated he expects the cars to run closer together at Atlanta than they have got within the recent beyond, but not lap after lap in packs of 20 or more as they’ve at Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway, the excursion’s two longest and fastest ovals. “At Daytona,” Hamlin said, “you run wide open the whole time. Atlanta mainly is one of the extra challenging tracks…. The loss of grip makes it sincerely, absolutely difficult. “I assume the vehicles will be greater unfold out at Atlanta.” Hamlin’s Daytona 500 victory changed into his 2d inside the collection’ most fulfilling occasion. He additionally won it in 2016. In sixty one Daytona 500s, there have been a dozen multitime winners. Only two are energetic — Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson, who won in 2006 and 2013. (That’s assuming Michael Waltrip, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. All continue to be inactive.) Hamlin, who has 32 career Cup wins, is aware of prevailing the opener at Daytona doesn’t always signal a amazing season to observe. Austin Dillon received final 12 months’s Daytona 500 and didn’t win any other race all year. Kurt Busch did the same element in 2017 — a win at Daytona accompanied by way of an 0-for-35 stat sheet the rest of the season. Hamlin, but, followed his 2016 Daytona win with a reasonably properly season. He brought wins on the Watkins Glen International road path that August and at Richmond Raceway that September. He stated it’s up to him and his race team to do the paintings it takes to have an even higher season after winning at Daytona to open 2019. NASCAR’s point device — which closing 12 months started awarding playoff points to drivers who win races or the ranges that split every occasion — has modified the manner early-season winners method the relaxation of the year. A win honestly ensures that a motive force qualifies for NASCAR’s 10-race playoffs, however the greater factors can move a long way towards ushering a motive force via the playoff-elimination method and preserving his eligibility to the winner-take-all finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November. A group critical about triumphing the championship has to race week in and week out, Hamlin stated. “You can’t take any weeks off,” he stated. “Before, after you won, you can take it clean every time you desired to and wait for the playoffs. Not any more.” Hamlin’s report at Atlanta is blended. In 19 begins he has received as soon as, the 2012 event, and has three other top-5 finishes. He qualified on the pole for the 2010 race. He’s had his percentage of negative finishes as properly — finishing out of the pinnacle 10 seven times. Sunday’s race, new policies and all, gives a direct and rigorous check of the way severe his crew may be approximately winning more than one exquisite race in 2019.