LONG POND, Pa. -- Denny Hamlin reaches the century mark this weekend – Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 will be his 100th start in the Sprint Cup Series.
“I don't know if anyone in history has won in his 100th start or not,” Hamlin said. “But it would be a fun thing to have had my first points win here and then get one in my 100th start.”
Hamlin's record at this 2.5-mile triangle is, in a word, phenomenal. He won both races here in his first full season, starting from the pole both times. After finishing sixth and third in last year's races here, he was third again earlier this year.
“I think it's just having a feel for it,” Hamlin said. “Once you have a winning combination at a race track, it's easier to go back and try to find that same combination than it is to go somewhere that you've struggled and try to figure out what you need to win. I think it's kind of a snowball effect from the first race.”
Hamlin said when he first came to Pocono he had a simple plan.
“I just went and followed Mark Martin for two laps,” he said. “I waited on somebody and I figured he was a good guy to follow. Ever since then it has just taken off. It seems like he definitely showed me the line around here and I have been able to find it since then.”
No ‘tire war' for Burton
Jeff Burton was around when Hoosier and Goodyear made tires for Sprint Cup cars and remembers being on the good side of that battle at some tracks.
“I almost won Atlanta in my fourth race as a Cup driver because the tires were so much better,” he said. “The Hoosier tires that, when you were better, and you were one of the few that had them, boy, they let you shine.”
But Burton said he doesn't see how having more than one tire manufacturer in the sport again would be good for NASCAR.
“My recollection is we have more catastrophic tire failures,” Burton said. “I think it's a huge mistake; the negatives far outweigh the positives.
“I believe that for the racing to be as good as it can be, every team should have access to the same tire. … If the race turns into a battle of tires, how does that make for better racing?”
Burton said the tire issues that plagued the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard last week might seem like an argument for more than one kind of tire. But he doesn't think that's the case.
“If another tire manufacturer was there, maybe it would have had something that wouldn't have had those problems,” he said. “But the problem with that would have been that half the field would have had those problems and the other half wouldn't.”
Speed still moving quickly
Scott Speed's development as a stock-car driver is going along almost as quickly as his No.2 Toyota ran in winning the pole for today's Automobile Racing Club of America series race at Pocono.
Speed ran 165.789 mph to edge out Justin Allgaier for the top starting spot in today's race. The former Formula One driver is looking for his third straight ARCA victory and trails Ricky Stenhouse Jr. by 55 points in the season's standings.
Aric Almirola will start third in today's ARCA race, with Chrissy Wallace, daughter of NASCAR driver Mike Wallace, fourth and ARCA veteran Frank Kimmel fifth.