Lately, everyone seems to be asking me who my pick for the Sprint Cup Series Championship is, and quite honestly, I hadn't really given it a thought since my mind has been in a million different directions because of school and applying for college. But, of course, people were asking me, so I had to sit down and ponder it.
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After thinking about whom I think will be crowned the Champion this November, one name seemed to stand out more than the others - Denny Hamlin. Sure, many of you are reading this thinking, "She's wrong; [fill in the driver you think will win the Championship here] will be the 2012 Champion." There's a one-in-twelve chance that you're right, so I would advise that you keep your pick, unless you actually think I'm onto something with this article, and then, by all means, feel free to change your mind.
After doing my research, I found an interesting pattern, so bear with me while I explain my logic as to why I think Hamlin is the man to beat. The 2012 season has been a good one for Denny; thus far, he's had eleven top-fives, thirteen top-tens, two poles, and four wins which came at Phoenix, Kansas, Bristol, and Atlanta. Phoenix is a one-mile tri-oval, Kansas is a 1.5-mile D-shaped oval, Bristol is a 0.533-mile oval, and Atlanta is a 1.54-mile Quad-oval. You're sitting there thinking, "This is just fantastic, she's rambling off a bunch of irrelevant facts." Just keep reading and you'll get why I added those seemingly irrelevant details.
The ten Chase races are on an array of tracks, granted they're all ovals, but that's not really a factor. Pay close attention to these numbers: Chicagoland Speedway - 1.5-miles; New Hampshire Motor Speedway - 1.058-miles; Dover International Speedway - 1-mile; Talladega Superspeedway - 2.66-miles; Charlotte Motor Speedway - 1.5-miles; Kansas Speedway - 1.5-miles; Martinsville Speedway - 0.526-miles; Texas Motor Speedway - 1.5-miles; Phoenix International Raceway - 1-mile; and last, but certainly not least, Homestead-Miami-Speedway - 1.5-miles.
When you look at Denny's stats for this year and group the Chase races according to the length of the track, Hamlin's chances at the Championship seem to be looking better and better. Let me clarify:
- Kansas is a 1.5-mile track, as is Chicagoland, Charlotte, Texas, Homestead, and Atlanta. Kansas and Atlanta, where two of his wins this year came, are also in the Chase.
- Phoenix is a 1-mile track, as is New Hampshire and Dover. All three of these races are in the Chase.
- Bristol is a 0.533-mile track as is Martinsville, which is in the Chase.
The only oddball track would be Talladega, but Denny has had success in the past at this historic track.
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If you look at it that way, Denny has nine-out-of-ten races covered since he's won at tracks extremely similar this year so far. In addition to the odds being in Denny's favor, he has a lot of momentum going into the Chase races; he's the point leader and he's had four wins this year - the most of anyone. Another aspect to think about - Darian Grubb is his crew chief; Grubb was the crew chief who helped Tony Stewart win the Championship last year. That has to count for something.
I think a major part of Denny's wanting to win this Championship is to prove to himself that he can do it. The 2010 season ended in heartbreak for Hamlin and the entire No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry team. After going into Homestead with a fifteen point lead, Denny left the track in a thirty-nine point hole; finishing second in the points behind none other than, Jimmie Johnson.
When all is said and done in November, no matter who the Champion is, I think we'll look back on the season and remember some good races.