Friday, August 1, 2014

Hamlin Staying Positive During Suspension of Crew Chief Darian Grubb

Hamlin speaks with the media about team penalties, Aug. 1, 2014
Credit: Beth Reinke for Skirts and Scuffs  
When there’s a change on the pit box due to a crew chief suspension, it impacts the whole race team on both a practical and emotional level. Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 team will be missing crew chief Darian Grubb this weekend, as he begins a six-week suspension resulting from post-race inspection penalties at Indy last week.

“It’s a tough deal,” Hamlin said. “As an organization we were heading in the right direction so it kind of sucks because you lose a little bit of that momentum.”

Race engineer Mike Wheeler will call the shots for the No. 11 team at Pocono this weekend, and Hamlin feels sure of Wheeler’s abilities.

“I’ve been with Mike Wheeler longer than I’ve been with anyone in the Cup Series,” Hamlin said. “We worked together a lot and [I’m] pretty confident in the job that he’s going to do.”

Grubb being able to spend time at the shop is beneficial for the team, he said, and keeping in touch through technology will help the team get through the separation, too.

Jimmie Johnson has raced without crew chief, Chad Knaus, on occasion and feels Hamlin’s pain.

“I wouldn’t wish it on anyone,” Johnson said. “It’s such a tough thing to go through and it also just shows in this sport that it doesn’t matter what team organization, car or driver — everybody is going to go through some of these bumps in their career. It just happens.”

Interestingly, it was who Grubb filled in as Johnson’s interim crew chief during Knaus’ suspension in 2006, and the pair even went to Victory Lane twice during that time.

Hamlin’s team has a history of overcoming adversity, using the difficulties as stepping stones to rise to the top. He hopes this new set of troubles will be no different.

“You use stuff like this as motivation to go out there and prove that you can run fast no matter what and you can run well,” Hamlin said. “I’m excited about what these next six weeks bring. We’ve got some great race tracks ahead of us — a lot of them which we feel like we can win.”

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