Denny Hamlin is of the opinion that the current NASCAR Cup Series playoffs format is in need of change.
The Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 11 driver joins the calls from a number of members of the NASCAR community for a change in the current format.
Another NASCAR professional who wanted a change is Dale Earnhardt Jr. Backing him, Hamlin said that one final race doesn’t justify the season. Speaking to the media members in Nashville ahead of the NASCAR Awards, Hamlin said:
“I think Dale Jr. covered it perfectly. Should one season, come down to this three-hour window?” Hamlin asked. “Listen all of the champions have been worthy, nonetheless, and I’m the last person that should comment on this because I’ve never won one and I’ll just sound like some bitter a****** that never won one.
“But I just I’m telling you — from a pure standpoint — it needs to have a bigger sample size. Because I can tell you this for a fact, my mom knew I wasn’t going to win that championship in 2020 because she flew on a flight with Coy [Gibbs] and he says, ‘Yeah, we have no chance. Our cars just aren’t good on these types of racetracks. So we have zero shot.’ And so she’s like, ‘Oh, well, that stinks.’ And I knew we weren’t gonna win. We just didn’t have the speed that the other guys had.”
As usual, Hamlin was one of the championship favorites, having featured in the final four for three consecutive years. However, he failed to make it to the final four race due to Ross Chastain’s wall-riding move.
“I look at the average finish of the playoffs guys. Like I was s*** all year,” Hamlin continued. “And then when it came to the playoffs, we had like a six-point-something average finish, and I was like, ‘Dang.’ And we didn’t make the final four with such a great playoff run, probably the best playoff run in 10 races I’ve ever had. So it’s just… This is the format that we’ve got.”
While Hamlin didn’t have an excellent start to the 2022 season, he picked up the pace as the season went through, winning two races, and finishing inside the top-10 during the final stretches of the season, including consecutive runner-up finishes at Darlington Raceway and Kansas Speedway.
While a new format might have done Hamlin favors but it has worked out well so far for other drivers. There might be growing disappointments with the format, but it won’t probably change anytime soon.