Friday May 27th, 2022 1:48AM

Hamlin hopes to put persistent miscues behind him

By Reid Spencer-NASCAR Wire Service
  Contact Editor

With the exception of one race — a welcome victory at Richmond Raceway — Denny Hamlin and his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team have been agonizingly consistent this season.

The very embodiment of Murphy’s Law, Hamlin and his team have found a wide variety of ways to spoil promising NASCAR Cup Series runs.

“It’s been frustrating,” said Hamlin, who is the leading active winner at Darlington with four victories coming into this weekend’s Goodyear 400 at the ‘Track Too Tough To Tame’. “I mean, honestly, it’s just been, you know, week after week of being the coyote that gets the anvil dropped on its head.”

Last week at Dover, a tire fell of Hamlin’s car as he left pit road because the tire changer’s gun had inadvertently ejected the single lug in use in the Cup Series this year. Hamlin finished 21st, a lap down. Even with the Richmond win, his average finish this season is 22.5 through 11 races, and he’s 23rd in the Cup standings.

“We’ve had things that just have broken,” Hamlin said. “I’ve had more mechanical failures this year than I’ve ever had. Again, you know, some of these parts that we don’t control, and NASCAR is continuing to change them and develop them to make them better so we don’t have a lot of problems, but we’ve just been kind of the poster child of the ones that break things.

“It’s been unfortunate, but I can tell you it’s a lot different than running top-10 every week and trying to figure out how you’re going to get enough speed to win. That’s what I’d really like to be worried about.”

Chase Elliott Happy About William Byron’s Contract Extension

Team owner Rick Hendrick has long said he’s pleased with the current driver lineup at Hendrick Motorsports.

Earlier this week, Hendrick backed up his words with action, signing 24-year-old William Byron to a three-year contract extension that will keep him with the organization at least through 2025.

Byron and Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain are the only two drivers in the series with two victories so far this season.

Chase Elliott, the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion, said he was happy to have Byron in the fold for the next few years. Elliott is signed with Hendrick through 2027. Teammates Kyle Larson, the reigning series champion, and Alex Bowman are signed through the 2023 season.

All four Hendrick drivers have at least one victory in the first 11 races this year and are all but assured of qualifying for the Cup Series Playoff.

“I think it’s great,” Elliott said of Byron’s extension. “Those three guys deserve their opportunities in my eyes, and I think they’ve done a great job. They’ve had a lot of success and have run really well over the course of the last couple of years.

“So yeah, I think it’s a great thing. When a guy or a girl is deserving of an opportunity, and they’re able to achieve that and have one presented to them in a manner like all of our guys have, I think it says a lot about them. I think HMS is in a really solid place right now.

“I feel like we all work pretty well together. It’s just kind of an easy flowing operation, which is good. I think it’s a great thing. I’m happy for William, and in light of his news this week, I think he’s very deserving. I look forward to racing with him and working with him over the next few years, too.”

Kyle Larson Misses NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Day — For A Good Reason

Traditionally, the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion is included in the Voting Panel for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, but Kyle Larson had an important conflict that prevented him from participating this past Wednesday.

As the winner of the 2021 Coca-Cola 600, Larson — along with Hendrick Motorsports vice chairman Jeff Gordon — flew to Washington, D.C., to lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.

The honor is part of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Mission 600, whose purpose is to honor military men and women. The focal point is the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend.

“It was a cool experience, for sure,” Larson said of the trip to Arlington. “It really puts things into perspective. It makes you respect the men and women of the military and everybody that’s given us the ultimate sacrifice and (those who) continue to serve.

“It was a great experience, and I hope I can visit it again someday. It would be great to win the 600 again and get to go next year, take my wife and maybe take my dad and get to experience it some more.”

WDUN will carry live MRN Radio coverage of the NASCAR Throwback Weekend from Darlington Raceway with Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear 400 beginning at 2:30 PM on 102.9 FM, AM 550 and streaming live on AccessWDUN.

NASCAR Cup Series
Darlington Raceway – Darlington, SC
Goodyear 400 – May 8, 2022

Sunday’s Starting Line Up

Pos Car Driver Team Time Speed
1. 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 28.805 170.720
2. 5 Kyle Larson Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet 28.887 170.236
3. 20 Christopher Bell SiriusXM Toyota 28.958 169.818
4. 19 Martin Truex, Jr. Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota 29.048 169.292
5. 18 Kyle Busch M&M’s Toyota 29.061 169.216
6. 45 Kurt Busch McDonald’s Throwback Toyota 29.077 169.123
7. 12 Ryan Blaney Advance Auto Parts Ford 29.106 168.955
8. 1 Ross Chastain Coca-Cola Chevrolet 29.126 168.839
9. 24 William Byron Axalta Chevrolet 29.161 168.636
10. 8 Tyler Reddick 3CHI Chevrolet 29.193 168.451
11. 43 Erik Jones FOCUSfactor Chevrolet 29.125 168.845
12. 10 Aric Almirola Haas Automation/Smithfield Ford 29.146 168.723
13. 14 Chase Briscoe Mahindra Tractors Ford 29.153 168.682
14. 3 Austin Dillon Huk Performance Fishing Chevrolet 29.198 168.422
15. 48 Alex Bowman Ally Throwback Chevrolet 29.221 168.290
16. 34 Michael McDowell Navage Nasal Care Ford 29.343 167.590
17. 23 Bubba Wallace MoneyLion Toyota 29.349 167.556
18. 17 Chris Buescher Socios.com Ford 29.359 167.499
19. 2 Austin Cindric # Menards/Libman Ford 29.381 167.373
20. 99 Daniel Suarez Coca-Cola Chevrolet 29.384 167.356
21. 42 Ty Dillon Petty GMS Chevrolet 29.411 167.203
22. 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota 29.431 167.089
23. 6 Brad Keselowski Socios.com Ford 29.437 167.055
24. 16 Daniel Hemric(i) AGI by Athletic Greens Chevrolet 29.475 166.840
25. 21 Harrison Burton # DEX Imaging Ford 29.481 166.806
26. 47 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Kroger/Nature Valley Chevrolet 29.555 166.388
27. 38 Todd Gilliland # Black’s Tire Ford 29.599 166.141
28. 41 Cole Custer HaasTooling.com Ford 29.661 165.793
29. 31 Justin Haley LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet 29.662 165.788
30. 7 Corey LaJoie Stacking Pennies Chevrolet 29.838 164.810
31. 51 Cody Ware Nurtec ODT Ford 30.054 163.625
32. 15 J.J. Yeley(i) Ollie’s Bargain Outlet Ford 30.191 162.883
33. 77 Landon Cassill(i) Voyager: Crypto for All Chevrolet 30.367 161.939
34. 9 Chase Elliott NAPA Chevrolet 0.000 0.000
35. 4 Kevin Harvick Rheem Chasing a Cure Ford 0.000 0.000
36. 78 B.J. McLeod Ford 0.000 0.000

(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series

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