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“You’re Pissing Me Off” – Dale Earnhardt Jr Instantly Shuts Down Denny Hamlin’s Solution to Better Talladega

Published 04/24/2024, 6:35 AM EDT

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Saving fuel on superspeedways and the lack of enough horsepower on short tracks have turned into big headaches for NASCAR lately. On one side while Goodyear is busy experimenting with different tire types to improve short-track racing, on the other, many NASCAR insiders, including the DBC crew, reckon that’s just the way superspeedway racing is going to roll for now, at least until some big changes kick in. However, Denny Hamlin recently floated the idea of shorter races on drafting tracks during his podcast, a suggestion that didn’t exactly thrill Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr was none too pleased when the topic of shortening races popped up on his podcast

On a recent episode, Dale Jr’s co-hosts brought up how to spice up superspeedway races, mentioning Denny Hamlin’s idea of trimming the races to 400 miles to better align the stages with fuel runs. Basically, Hamlin had argued, What NASCAR could do is just take this take the superspeedway races down to 400 miles, and then the stages would probably line up quite a bit better. If a stage was a fuel run, we would never save because we’re always going to fight for stage points. But Dale Jr wasn’t buying it. He compared the idea to getting less of what you love, saying, That’s like giving me less candy bar. That’s like giving me less Tater chips in the bag. You’re pissing me off. Stop it! You know what I’m saying? […] Don’t give me less race. ‘Oh! We don’t like our race, so let’s just do less of it’.”

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Dale Jr firmly rejected the suggestion to cut down race length, proposing a different fix instead: That’s a way to get that but I don’t think I want to have a shorten the race? Why don’t you just put enough stages in there to get that solution that you want to. […] so just add another stage don’t take away racing don’t take don’t you just said you don’t want to add another stage well don’t if you’re giving me the choice between taking away candy bar shortening up my candy bar right or taking chips out of the bag versus adding another stage, I’m gonna say just add the f*cking stage man. I don’t want less racing okay I don’t want less racing.”

Stewart-Haas Racing’s crew chief Rodney Childers also echoed similar thoughts on the matter. Childers pointed out, If the stages were 40 laps instead of 60 laps, there wouldn’t be any fuel saving. So, if you had two 40s and whatever else or however you want to split it up

Right now, fuel runs at superspeedways like Daytona and Talladega last about 40-45 laps, meaning stages should be around 40 laps or shorter to allow drivers to complete them on a single tank. However, things seem to be taking a turn (in Denny Hamlin’s favor) as the Coke Zero 400 will see a 35-lap first stage and a 60-lap second stage, followed by a final 65-lap dash. The first stage is under the fuel run limit, so there’s no need to save fuel early on, but the next two stages will need at least one pit stop.

However, shortening races, as Hamlin suggested, doesn’t quite solve the issue, as it’s tricky to divide a race into three parts where each is short enough to avoid refueling. As long as there’s a pit stop before a stage ends or the race concludes, drivers will have a reason to save fuel. Even eliminating stage breaks wouldn’t stop this—drivers would just aim to minimize their final stop or try to finish w,ith fewer pit stops overall.

So, what other strategies could be employed to jazz up the superspeedway races?

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Is there another way to crank up the action at superspeedways?

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First off, NASCAR might want to rethink the tires. If tires wore out quicker at Daytona and Talladega, teams would need to swap them out more often, which would cut back on those quick splash-and-go pit stops just for track position. Right now, Goodyear’s already busy tweaking things for short tracks, and it seems a bit much to expect them to fix everything that’s off in NASCAR.

Another idea? The officials could set a “draft minimum speed“, according to many. Say, if a driver’s lap times drop below 54 seconds while drafting—slower than their solo qualifying runs—they stop getting scored for the rest of the race. This would definitely discourage drivers from just coasting around the track.

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Then, there’s a chance for some teamwork among the smaller teams. What if underdog teams like Live Fast Motorsports and Beard Motorsports teamed up and decided not to drop their speed? At five seconds faster per lap, they could lap the whole field in about 10 laps. With a stage that’s 60 laps long, they could potentially put the entire field laps down. The rest of the field would have to speed up before they’d let that happen, which is exactly the point.

Do you have any other ideas on how to spice up the superspeedway races?

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Written by:

Neha Dwivedi

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Neha Dwivedi is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. As a journalist, she religiously believes in the power of research, which allows her readers to dive deep into her stories and experience the detailed nuances of the sport like never before. Being proficient with Core Sport and Live Event Coverage, she has written multiple copies on the top entities of Stock Car Racing, like Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, and Tony Stewart.
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Edited by:

Ariva Debnath