Hopes for Chase bid starting to flicker for Denny Hamlin

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Denny Hamlin’s already slim margin for error in his quest to overcome an early-season back injury and make the Chase for the Sprint Cup may now be down to zero.

On Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, Hamlin ran a paint design that fallen driver Jason Leffler drove with for Joe Gibbs Racing when he debuted their still-ongoing FedEx sponsorship in 2005. But Hamlin was unable to make an impact in the Quicken Loans 400, finishing 30th with a car that could never make him a factor.

“We changed everything,” Hamlin’s crew chief, Darian Grubb, told NASCAR.com. “We changed shocks, bump stops, everything and we never affected it really. So we’ll take it back to the shop, tear it all apart and see if we can find something.”

Hamlin is currently 26th in the Sprint Cup standings, six spots out of where he needs to be in order to enter the conversation for a wild-card spot in the Chase. The two drivers between 11th and 20th place that have the most wins are eligible to earn those particular berths, and with 11 races remaining in the regular season, it could officially be desperation time for Hamlin and his No. 11 JGR squad.

Going into Michigan, Hamlin had recorded finishes of 34th at Dover (where he had sat on the pole) and eighth last weekend at Pocono. He needed to follow up strong on that Top 10 at the Tricky Triangle, but instead, he was unable to make up ground.

Next up is Sonoma, a track where he has never won and has finished outside the Top 30 in his last three starts.

MRTI: Telitz gets creative to help racing career

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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To say that Belardi Auto Racing’s Aaron Telitz has endured a difficult start to the 2018 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season would be an understatement. The Wisconsin native only completed four corners through the first three races – Races 1 and 2 at St. Petersburg, and Race 1 at Barber Motorsports Park – with St. Pete being especially problematic.

He took the pole for Race 1, but a crash during qualifying for Race 2 prevented him from actually starting. What’s more, the damage was so severe that the Belardi team needed a brand new chassis, with Telitz’s Dallara IL-15 damaged beyond repair.

They also had to borrow a car from Carlin for Race 2, but Telitz’s race ended after he got tangled up with Victor Franzoni in Turn 2 on Lap 1.

With the damage bill well into the six figures as a result, Telitz has taken to some unique, or rather, creative ways to raise money in the aftermath to help cover the costs. “Creative,” in this case, meaning Telitz is using his art skills.

An artist in his spare time, Telitz has begun selling his own original paintings to help raise money.

 “I’ve been to a lot of art shows and I see stuff and I go, ‘Holy cow, someone’s going to pay a thousand dollars for that thing?’” Telitz quipped in a story posted on the Milwaukee Journal.

In discussing his artistic abilities, Telitz added, “I’m working at getting better. I’d like to be able to paint some animals, those types of things. I got a request from Alexander Rossi to see if I could paint his dog. Unfortunately I can’t do that yet.”

Further, in a partnership with The Styled Garage, Telitz is selling his own merchandise, and accepting donations, to help his cause.

Telitz finished fourth in Race 2 at Barber on Sunday, and sits seventh in the Indy Lights championship, 59 points behind leader Pato O’Ward.

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