WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — At a race track where braking is crucial to success, particularly in qualifying, Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer found themselves lacking any stopping power in Sunday morning’s final knockout round at Watkins Glen Int’l.
After transferring through to the run for the pole in Coors Light Pole Qualifying, Hamlin and Bowyer prepared to go out for their runs in the 10-minute final round, but were both unable to complete a lap and complained of the exact same issue.
Neither had any brake ability on-board their rides.
“It ended the (first) run fine, but something happened,” Hamlin explained. “I don’t know if it heat-stroked or what the problem was. I went to pull off pit road and I had no brakes at all. If I had to wait more than three seconds, then (the pedal) would go to the floor … and obviously that’s going to be an issue if you’re trying to make a qualifying run, much less run a full race around here.”
“We’ll probably change all the brake systems, start at the back and go from there.”
Stewart-Haas Racing tweeted that Bowyer’s brakes “were too hot” and as such, he didn’t make a lap at speed.
“It’s just an unfortunate thing,” Bowyer added after qualifying. “You go push everything you can … and we just got a little too greedy, put too much tape on (the nose) and got the brakes too hot. Our Five Star Urgent Care Ford has been good all weekend long, but obviously strategy is the name of the game, no matter if you’re the fastest car or the slowest car.”
“We can certainly win from where we’re at. I just have to do my job and pass some cars on the race track. We’ve got a bit of a hole here; so we have to get the shovel out and see how far we can dig.”
As a result of not putting down a time in the final round, Hamlin was credited with 11th and Bowyer with 12th on the starting grid, but due to qualifying and the race being on a same-day impound schedule, both will drop to the rear of the field when the green flag waves.
At a track where passing is at a premium and strategy is key to success, Hamlin said that having to fall to the tail makes it considerably tougher for a driver to find their way to victory lane.
“I’m not too concerned about whether we’ll have (the car) right for the race, but obviously, this screws up all the strategy we had planned,” he said. “Now you’ll have to do something totally opposite of the leaders to make gains. You can’t do the same strategy that they are. If you start up front, you have the option of trying to race them, but unfortunately we don’t have that.”
“We’ll just do something different and try to get up front.”
Ryan Newman will also be relegated to the back of the pack for the race, after qualifying 23rd but having to replace flat-spotted tires aboard his Chevrolet following a late-session spin in round one.
Kyle Busch won the pole for Sunday’s I LOVE NEW YORK 355 at the Glen, with a final round lap of 1:09.490 (126.925 mph) in his No. 18 M&Ms Caramel Toyota.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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