denny hamlin tackles texas with designs on keeping playoff pressure low

Denny Hamlin’s trip through the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs this season has been remarkably free of intensity. The veteran driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has spent the majority of his time already locked into the ensuing round, cashing in on automatic berths in each round-opening race thus far.

The formula worked with wins at Darlington Raceway to kick off the Round of 16 and then Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the Round of 12. The prospects for Hamlin doing it all again and winning this Sunday (2 p.m. ET, NBC/NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Texas Motor Speedway are intriguing, and the stakes are higher.

“It’s been interesting. We’ve had after today six playoff races and only two of them have mattered to me,” Hamlin said before last Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. “So it’s just different that we were able to, not take off, but really mentally take off for four weeks in the middle of our playoffs. But that’s the way the format is, and we’ve been very fortunate to win the early races and that’s given us the liberty that we’ve got to go out there and enjoy today and really our focus has been shifted to the Round of 8 and how we can win at those tracks.”

A win Sunday at Texas, Oct. 24 at Kansas Speedway or Oct. 31 at Martinsville Speedway would clinch an automatic spot in the Championship 4 field that will vie for the Cup Series title Nov. 7 at Phoenix Raceway. Hamlin has been among that final quartet for the last three seasons.

Hamlin’s path has done its part to take the pressure off the elimination points of the 10-race postseason, but hasn’t come with the cost of any complacency creeping in.

MORE: Cup Series odds for Texas

“All it does is fuel me to win the first week next week as well because I know how good it’s been,” Hamlin said. “You could be counterintuitive to say, well, then you don’t lose your focus or whatever, but Vegas showed we locked right back in. Our performance has still been very, very good in the playoffs.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a meaningful race in the playoffs or not, so we’ve acquired more points than anybody else this season. Doesn’t matter if it’s full regular season or through the playoffs, we’re still on top. Hopefully we can continue that for four or five more weeks.”

As has been the case in each of the last three seasons — and really, for much of his successful 16-year career in NASCAR’s top series — the question that has dogged Hamlin is the if/when mystery to unlocking a first Cup Series championship. Hamlin said he hasn’t been getting stomach knots over that, either, and a victory at Texas — a track where he’s won three times — would release another pressure valve for his 2021 campaign.

“I certainly feel like there’s less pressure, even though we’ve been at the top all year long,” Hamlin said. “For whatever reason, it’s been a pretty easy year when it’s come to the pressures of are you going to win the first (championship), or whatever it might be. Each and every week, I give it my best effort and I never go home any week after a race saying I didn’t do my best. I just feel like I’m just going to have to deal with the result because I can’t change it, and as long as I do my job to the best of my ability, that’s going to give us my best shot. I’m fine either way.

Internet Explorer Channel Network


LATEST NEWS

NEWS RELATED

2023 Kia Sportage reveal: Watch the new SUV debut here

If the 2022 Hyundai Tucson looks wild, wait until you see what Kia cooked up based on the same platform. Said vehicle arrives on Oct. 27 at 11:00 a.m. PT: the 2023 Kia Sportage. Though, we’ve actually seen this new SUV already. Kia decided to reveal the vehicle globally months…

Read more: 2023 Kia Sportage reveal: Watch the new SUV debut here

The Iconic TVS Scooty Breaches 50 Lakh Units Sales Mark

© Varun Singh The TVS Scooty Pep+ (left) is priced between Rs 57,959 and Rs 60,859 (ex-showroom, New Delhi), while the TVS Zest 110 (right) costs Rs 66,318 (ex-showroom, New Delhi). New Delhi: The iconic TVS Scooty has breached the sales milestone of 50 lakh units since its launch in…

Read more: The Iconic TVS Scooty Breaches 50 Lakh Units Sales Mark

Airlines brace for early 'long lines' when U.S. lifts travel restrictions

Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, answers questions from reporters at the International Air Transport Association’s Annual General Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., October 3, 2021. REUTERS/Brian Snyder WASHINGTON, Oct 26 (Reuters) – Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) Chief Executive Ed Bastian said on Tuesday that travelers should be prepared…

Read more: Airlines brace for early 'long lines' when U.S. lifts travel restrictions

Dale Jr. thrilled with chance to drive Next Gen car at Bowman Gray

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Past and present came together in a unique way Tuesday, as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart and Clint Bowyer drove the Next Gen car at historic Bowman Gray Stadium. “It’s awesome to come here and experience this place behind the wheel,” said Earnhardt, whose grandfather, Ralph, raced…

Read more: Dale Jr. thrilled with chance to drive Next Gen car at Bowman Gray

ANOTHER child kidnapping: Three-year-old snatched in Manguang

© Provided by The South African Another major kidnapping case is unfolding in South Africa this week, following the disappearance of a three-year-old child in the Mangaung Metro. A distraught mother has reported her case to the police, after the boy was snatched on Monday. Mangaung child kidnapping: What has…

Read more: ANOTHER child kidnapping: Three-year-old snatched in Manguang

New tech meets old school in Next Gen car's appearance at Bowman Gray Stadium

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Goodyear technicians and NASCAR officials gathered data and information Tuesday that will help determine the tire selection for next season’s Clash at the Coliseum. Accomplishing that came at the intersection of the Next Gen car of NASCAR’s future with a venerable track from the Cup Series’ past.…

Read more: New tech meets old school in Next Gen car's appearance at Bowman Gray Stadium

Fifth-generation, 2022 Range Rover arrives packing third row, BMW V8 power

The 2022 Range Rover is here and packing more flexibility and technology than the fourth-generation model it replaces. A new third row makes the Range Rover a more-appealing family hauler and a more competitive vehicle in its price bracket, while new tech is guaranteed to bring in those who can't…

Read more: Fifth-generation, 2022 Range Rover arrives packing third row, BMW V8 power

Kansas penalty report: Christopher Bell's crew chief suspended one race

NASCAR’s penalty report from last weekend’s racing at Kansas Speedway confirmed a one-race suspension and $20,000 fine for Cup Series crew chief Adam Stevens. Stevens, who leads the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team of driver Christopher Bell, was penalized after Bell’s car was found with two lug nuts not…

Read more: Kansas penalty report: Christopher Bell's crew chief suspended one race

Dale Jr. to run Xfinity race at Martinsville in 2022

Price rises at the pump: Ways to make driving more economical

2022 Land Rover Range Rover revealed

1969 Dodge Dart Goes Head To Head With A 1970 Chevy Chevelle

Can I Add My Girlfriend Or Boyfriend To My Car Insurance? (2021)

The 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Could Be the Last Great Naturally-Aspirated Sports Car

Street-Spotted: Land Rover 127 Pickup

Mercedes-Benz decides to bring EQC electric SUV to US after all, but it's years away

OTHER NEWS