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Speaking on his podcast Actions Detrimental with Denny Hamlin the day after the Los Angeles Clash pre-season special event, Hamlin was outspoken about how hard he felt impacts from rivals around the ¼-mile temporary oval track.
“The bumper tags still hurt,” he said. “I didn’t feel anything softer, I know that’s something that NASCAR might be testing is softer bumpers, we need that really bad.
“Once you start bumper tagging in the corners, your HANS locks out and you can feel a jar in your head. It’s still pretty abrupt.”
Speaking at Daytona 500 media day, where cars will be bumpdrafting at high speed this weekend, Hamlin reiterated his concerns.
“I feel okay about the car itself,” said Hamlin. “Certainly, I know they’re testing bumpers, they haven’t gotten anything better yet than what we’ve got. So they’re still working on it as far as I know.
“It jars you pretty good for sure. The hit is super solid and especially at the rate that guys were laying into each other [at the Clash]. It was as hard as anything we do without it crumbling for sure.”
Ty Gibbs, Joe Gibbs Racing, Monster Energy Toyota on fire during practice
Photo by: Lesley Ann Miller / Motorsport Images
His other worry is the rocker box area, where a muffler was fitted for the Clash event that will be required again for the Chicago Street Course race in the summer. His Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Ty Gibbs suffered a fire in this area in LA, and NASCAR’s senior VP of competition Elton Sawyer explained “the installation wasn’t quite where it needed to be”.
Hamlin also revealed on his podcast that he sought emergency oxygen from the pilots of his jet on the journey home, as he felt lightheaded after inhaling fumes from inside his car after it sustained damage from door banging.
“Certainly, the updates we’ve been given from NASCAR have been good,” he said. “The thing is that what we think happened in my scenario is that there’s just not very much room in that rocker box for the muffler, and when they put the muffler in there, there is just no clearance anywhere.
“As soon as you door bang with someone or get some damage on the sides, it just knocks it into the frame rail which then roasts the door pad. Just not enough tolerances around that area yet.”