Denny Hamlin wins his 17th Cup victory at Michigan…yaaa. I mean, Yaaaah! Oh, who am I kidding? There are some you love, some you don’t mind, and there are some days you wouldn’t mind if the television went out. Sunday was one of those days.
[media-credit name=”CIA Stock Photo” align=”alignright” width=”238″][/media-credit]Still, 17 wins is not bad territory for a 30 year old driver to find himself. I mean, he is just one back of Dale Earnhardt, Jr, tied with Kevin Harvick, and one better than Greg Biffle on the career ladder, a trio of guys who have made a much bigger imprint on the NASCAR landscape. I mean, has anyone ever seen anybody standing up and cheering “Denny, Denny.” Okay, maybe family members, but when it comes to terms of endearment, Hamlin is no Rory McIlroy. Still, you don’t have to be popular to outrun Matt Kenseth to the stripe, just talented. For trivia lovers, the win moved the #11 to within one (198-197) of the famed #43 for the winningest car number in NASCAR history. Hamlin shares his wins with the likes of Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough, who claimed 84 wins between them in that auto. Can’t remember who that guy was who drove for most of the #43 victories, but I’m sure it will come to me.
It is too early to get too warm and fuzzy about the points, with 11 races to go before the invites to the ball go out. Even leader Carl Edwards is not yet a sure thing. However, the win moves Hamlin into the top ten, and a spot in the Chase, with that victory all important should he slide out by the time they leave Richmond in September. As things stand today, Clint Bowyer holds down tenth, Jeff Gordon sits with the first wild card placing, and Brad Keselowski would have the other. With this new format for those wishing to contend for a title run, a win is a really big deal leading to the deadline.
So, if Michigan didn’t set my heart a flutter, what are the chances this weekend might? Well, they have some right to go along with the left as they hit the road course at Sonoma, just north of San Francisco. In 22 races, there has never been a winner there that I could not appreciate. Last year it was Jimmie Johnson, five times it was Jeff Gordon, and Dale Earnhardt claimed it back in 1995. So, what are the chances Hamlin will win even there? He was 34th last year, but 5th in 2009. Who knows, maybe I’ll embrace the boy to my bosom yet. Maybe I’ll reach six feet, my hair will return, Bill Gates will have cause to ask me for a loan, Richard Childress will ask me to be the new driver of the #3…