Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin seemed to be content with his performance at Watkins Glen International on Sunday, August 20. The #11 Toyota Camry TRD driver was seen taking the Busch Light Pole Award on Saturday after setting the fastest lap around 'The Glen'. Hamlin followed up his performance on Saturday with a solid P2 finish on raceday, only being beaten to the start finish line by Hendrick Motorsports' William Byron.
Many fans as well as analysts and various other people in the NASCAR fraternity noticed that drivers followed each other around more this weekend at Watkins Glen than previous races at the track. The track located in the town of Dix near Seneca Lake has always been known for massive amounts of overtaking over the years in stock car racing, as well as other motorsports series that run on it.
However, the seventh generation Next Gen cup cars seemed to dial it back a little, as drivers were seen following each other more than usual. This meant track position as well as pit strategy played crucial parts during Go Bowling at The Glen. Touching upon the new car's issue of following in another driver's wake and the dirty air affecting one's own downforce levels, Denny Hamlin elaborated after the race:
"I mean this is not breaking news, you know, any tracks that are single lane, is where the Next Gen struggles. It has to get out of the wake of the other cars and laptimes only falling off a second over the course of an entire run on a track this big, we're all just in the gas, hammer down. It's really really hard." - via Bob Pockrass
Denny Hamlin sums up his performance at Watkins Glen last Sunday
After finishing in the runner's up spot on Sunday, Denny Hamlin was one driver who seemed to be content with his P2 finish. The Tampa, Florida native spoke on how he and the #11 crew at Joe Gibbs Racing have been on an upward trajectory when it comes to road courses and said in a post-race interview:
"I've been qualifying well in the Next Gen on road courses but I hadn't been able to put together an entire race of laps and I think today was the first time I did." - via Bob Pockrass
Denny Hamlin will compete in the 2023 regular season one last time as the sport heads to Daytona International Speedway next weekend before heading off into the postseason playoffs.