Flaunting Battle Scars Akin to Denny Hamlin, Will Brad Keselowski’s Superstar Edge Over Joe Gibbs Rival at Charlotte?

The anxious jitters for the upcoming elimination have kept the racing community glued. With 12 drivers striving for 8 precious seats, the anticipation of the Bank Of America Roval 400 is palpable. Whereas certain victories safely cocooned 2 racers, 4 despaired below the cut-off line. Can the rest survive the Charlotte Motor Speedway unscathed?

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Joe Gibbs Racing star Denny Hamlin is eyeing the championship trophy like a red-tailed hawk. But a bald eagle is just as familiar with the tricky terrains of this weekend’s race. And this bird of prey trained under the watchful eyes of Brad Keselowski.

Who will win the next bout between Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski’s playoff entrant?


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In the triumphant repertoire of Denny Hamlin, the Charlotte Roval eluded capture. With one Top 5 and Top 10 finish each, Hamlin scored an average finish of 12.8 on the racetrack. However, there is another playoff contender who matched the #11 driver’s performance over the years. One Top 5 and Two Top 10 finishes placed Chris Buescher‘s average finish to 12.8 as well, in the same number of five races. Does that mean both of them are poised to fare equally well? A closer inspection brought forward a fascinating result.

The two racing rivals may have fared neck-to-neck on their overall averages, but a more recent glance exposed Buscher’s growing confidence on the track.

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YearsChris Buescher (Avg Finish)Denny Hamlin (Avg Finish)
2023 Coca-Cola 6008thDNF

Moreover, in the combined outcome of all the road courses this season, RFK Racing’s #17 driver accumulated 155 points over Hamlin’s 138. If that is the case, why is Denny Hamlin finding greater support among racing experts?

The short answer is Hamlin’s magnificent form in this playoff season. Although Hamlin and Buescher entered the playoffs in the third and fourth position respectively, the #17 driver’s back-to-back wins capped off the regular season. But as soon as the playoffs started, Hamlin’s unquenchable thirst for a trophy fueled his unstoppable car while Buescher quietly languished in the shadows. With steady consistency, Chris Buescher amassed a respectable position for himself, standing 19 points above the cut-off line. But he is nowhere near the 50-point lead the #11 driver garnered through his resplendent skills.

DriverDarlingtonKansasBristolTexasTalladegaRankPoints above cut-off
Denny Hamlin25th2nd1st5th3rd3rd+50
Chris Buescher3rd27th4th14th19th5th+19

Watch this story: Denny Hamlin Points a Finger at NASCAR’s Intricate System for Teammate’s Dramatic Downfall

Consequently, it is highly probable that both of them will grab a coveted spot at the end of the race. The difference is that Hamlin’s 50-point cushion grants him the luxury of breezing past the Roval without stage points. Even a 29th-place finish would confirm his qualification. On the other hand, Buescher would have to aim for Top 10 stage finishes to gather the 39 points he requires. But are there underlying factors that could trounce Denny Hamlin’s statistical lead?

Is the championship bid too much to bear for No. 11 Denny Hamlin?


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Interestingly, neither Denny Hamlin nor Chris Buescher are being touted as possible winners this weekend. Chase Elliott, driving in the owner’s playoffs for his team, Hendrick Motorsports, is finding unanimous favor with two prior wins. But among the playoff drivers, 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick boasts the highest average finish of 7.3 on the racetrack. As the team owner, Hamlin would also be concerned about his two drivers below the cut-off line. Especially Bubba Wallace, struggling 9 points below the cut-off line with a dismal average finish record of 20.4 on the Roval.

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However, there is another factor that could be taken into consideration. Buescher would endeavor to improve upon his playoff performance through the upcoming race. And Denny Hamlin is showcasing an unexpected vulnerability with the championship nearing in sight. He has repeatedly expressed his displeasure with the current playoff format in recent times. This week he reaffirmed his stance in an interview reported by Motorsport.com writer Jim Utter.

Hamlin admitted, “Obviously, I don’t like it.” Referring to NASCAR, he continued, “I think you continue to make this a game a chance. One of the common quotes that you’ll hear from leadership is that ‘We like to test our drivers.’ That’s silly. You’re testing their luck…I am not a believer in one race take-all (championship).”


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It was evident the overwhelming burden of never having won a championship was making the #11 driver restless for the upcoming rounds. But would he succumb under pressure and let Chris Buescher get ahead? Or would Denny Hamlin’s enviable form set him miles apart from his Roval competitor? Chime in with your opinions down below.

Author: ZeroToHero

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