Hamlin ready for return to real racing "under a microscope"

All eyes will be on NASCAR’s return to real racing in one week and driver Denny Hamlin believes the sport and his fellow competitors are ready to do it “in the right way.”

Hamlin ready for return to real racing "under a microscope"

The NASCAR Cup Series will be the first major professional sport in the United States to return to live action next Sunday afternoon, with a 400-mile race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

The World of Outlaws sprint cars held a special race Friday night in Knoxville, Iowa, without fans, which appeared to go off without any serious issues.

NASCAR has not held a live event since March 8 at Phoenix Raceway due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its races for the foreseeable future will be conducted without fans in attendance and under strict socially distancing guidelines.

For the first two weeks, the races will all be one-day events with no practice or qualifying, except for the May 24 Coca-Cola 600 Cup race, which will have an afternoon qualifying session.

Hamlin, who won Sunday’s eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series race at the virtual North Wilkesboro Speedway, knows the return to racing will be different but believes drivers and teams are ready to meet the challenge.

Read Also:

“To me, when we go to California, Atlanta, whatever the second race of the season is, that is always the nervous moment I have. I usually don’t race anything in the off-season, don’t do any testing,” Hamlin said comparing the restart of this season to the start of a new one.

“It’s difficult to be able to trust yourself and your instincts you know what you’re doing barreling off into Turn 1 at the proper speed. The good news is now that we know all these guys have got (sim) rigs. I guarantee all of them will be on iRacing at some point out there making laps at Darlington just to get re-acclimated.”

Hamlin said the biggest question mark in his mind is the “unknowns” associated with the medical protocols that will be put in place.

“You can read about them all you want. We also heard through the teleconference we had with NASCAR about the protocols,” he said. “But making sure you’re doing everything exactly the way that they want it.

“Obviously, there will be a huge microscope on how we’re doing things, making sure it’s done in a safe manner. For all of us, it’s just the unknown of making sure we’re doing it the right way.

“After the first week I think it will be easier and people will have a better understanding. Certainly the first week there will be some questions that I’m sure drivers will have.”

When it comes to the actual competition getting underway, Hamlin believes there will be a “slow-go” approach even though with no one having been in a race car in over two months, one might think drivers could tempted to quickly release their pent up frustrations.

A timid return

“I envision people are going to be pretty timid, at least for the first few laps, just trying to understand, checking your travels. There’s plenty of times where these things unload, the cars are hitting the race track (and) you’re not ready to be in a pack quite yet. That will certainly be different,” Hamlin said.

“But we do have the data from last year. I think everyone is going to be pretty confident going into Turn 1 that the travels are right. I’m sure the crew chiefs are going to be very conservative with their travels to make sure the car doesn’t hit the race track on the first run.

“I think all in all it’s going to be like an old shoe. I don’t think from the TV’s perspective fans will see anything different than just a normal race that they would normally see at Darlington.

Read Also:

shares
comments
Denny Hamlin wins North Wilkesboro eNASCAR finale
Previous article

Denny Hamlin wins North Wilkesboro eNASCAR finale

Next article

Gaunt Brothers Racing adds Nick Ollila as technical director

Gaunt Brothers Racing adds Nick Ollila as technical director
Load comments
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle 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, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

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

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

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 Cup
Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Prime

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organization - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR Cup
Aug 31, 2021
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021