NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

 
    === The Inside Line: Hamlin walks the talk at New Hampshire ===
 
 By Chris Symeon, Motorsports Editor
 
 Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Denny Hamlin isn't talking the talk when
 he makes predictions.
 
 Shortly after he ran out of fuel on the final lap and finished 16th in the
 Chase opener on Sept. 16 at Chicagoland Speedway, Hamlin posted on his Twitter
 account, "We will win next week." He backed up his words by winning Sunday's
 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Hamlin's victory came in dominating
 fashion, as he led 193 of 300 laps and beat Jimmie Johnson to the finish line
 by a sizeable margin -- 2.7 seconds.
 
 Even though he followed through on his declaration to win at New Hampshire,
 Hamlin knows he's far from being an expert in fortune-telling. Hamlin noted
 during his weekly press conference on Friday that he simply expects to win.
 
 "Just confident that we could win," Hamlin said in response to his tweet after
 Chicago. "It's no different than the nine Chase tracks that we go to, other
 than Dover, where I'm going to be realistic. I feel like I can go win each and
 every one of them. Really, it's nothing more than that. It was really meant to
 be nothing more than just, 'Hey, we'll get them next week. We'll win it next
 week.' People were just taking it a little further than that, but I'm racing
 -- doing the best I can -- and that's all I'm going to do."
 
 Hamlin raced to his Sprint Cup Series-leading fifth win of the season over the
 weekend. He also moved to within seven points of Johnson, who took over the
 points lead following his second-place run.
 
 After leaving New Hampshire, Hamlin tweeted about his victory and celebratory
 burnout but made no predictions for next weekend's race at Dover.
 
 "I just wanted to clarify that there are no guarantees," he said during the
 post-race press conference. "I've had the fastest car in my career and not won
 ... 20 times, some crazy amount, and not won because of the variables that I
 talked about on Friday. So I just wanted it to be clear ... all right. I'm not
 guaranteeing anything, but barring any of those circumstances happening, we
 were going to win.
 
 "I had faith that we were going to win. It was more for my fan base that was
 probably down on your performance at Chicago. It was more for them, all of my
 followers are on Twitter, I was going to assure them that we were going to
 have a rebound week."
 
 Hamlin's win is not only vindication for Chicago but the July race at New
 Hampshire as well. Hamlin also a had a dominant car there two months ago,
 leading 150 of 300 laps. But a miscommunication between he and crew chief
 Darian Grubb on tire strategy late in the race cost him an opportunity to win.
 He finished second to Kasey Kahne.
 
 "You look at how many realistic shots we had at winning races, and there's no
 reason why we shouldn't have six, seven or eight wins this season, based off
 of just obscene stuff (that) happened that took us out of victory lane," Hamlin
 said.
 
 In 2010, Hamlin won a series-high eight races and finished a career-best
 second in points. He went into the season-finale at Homestead that year with a
 15-point lead over Johnson but ended up losing the championship to Johnson by
 39.
 
 After scoring only one race win and finishing ninth in the Chase last year,
 Grubb replaced Mike Ford as crew chief for Hamlin's team at Joe Gibbs Racing.
 Grubb guided Tony Stewart to five wins during last year's Chase, which earned
 Stewart his third series title.
 
 Hamlin has won three of the last five races. He claimed back-to-back victories
 at Bristol and Atlanta before concluding the regular season with an 18th-place
 run at Richmond. Hamlin is hoping that winning momentum can continue at Dover,
 regardless of his previous struggles there.
 
 One thing that Hamlin can plug into his psychic abilities is the winner of the
 second race in the Chase has gone to claim the championship the past three
 years.
 
 Can Hamlin keep the streak alive?
 
 Perhaps he should look into a crystal ball and make a prediction.
 
 
 
 09/24 16:20:30 ET

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