There’s no question that Denny Hamlin considers both Martinsville and Richmond a ‘home game’ for him, being that he is a Virginia native. Since we are at Richmond Saturday night, this might be the place where Denny jump-starts his 2014 season and becomes our eight different winner in nine races.
We all know how well Denny runs at Richmond. Drivers want to win every week. Actually drivers want to win at everything, be it racing, chess or a pie-eating contest. It’s simply how they are wired up. Each driver has special tracks that they really take it to another level for, and Richmond is one of those places for Denny.
Unfortunately back at Martinsville, another special track for Denny, he simply didn’t have the performance that we expected him to have. Actually, since finishing second at Daytona back in February and winning the pole at Bristol, there really hasn’t been a lot of bright spots for Denny. In fact, the races at Texas and Darlington saw Denny basically beat himself with late-race pit road speeding penalties.
His past record at Richmond is phenomenal, and when we roll in there he is always someone you expect to be a contender for the win. With all that said, the performance level is down at little bit so far in 2014.
One of Denny’s teammate, Matt Kenseth, is second in the points. His other teammate Kyle Busch has already won a race this season. As a whole however, we have yet to see the powerhouse of Joe Gibbs Racing like in the past. Kyle told Darrell Waltrip a few weeks ago during a NASCAR on FOX pre-race interview that they know there are areas that they need to work on. They also realize that the Toyota engines are just a bit down on power right now too, so they know that is playing a role as well.
Overall Joe Gibbs Racing has nine wins at Richmond, so Saturday night will be a really good measuring stick for them and specifically Denny Hamlin.