Denny Hamlin will have to start from the back of the field in Sunday’s Sprint Cup event at Phoenix International Raceway.
Hamlin, who is the defending champion of the Phoenix spring race, and his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team elected to change the engine on his Toyota Camry. He had qualified eighth for tomorrow’s Subway Fresh Fit 500k.
SPEED Channel’s Bob Dillner tweeted word from Toyota Racing Development that Hamlin had felt a vibration during today’s first practice session and that it had returned after efforts to fix the problem.
Hamlin’s issues continues what has been a problematic couple of weeks for Toyota motors.
TRD engines for Hamlin’s two Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth, suffered terminal issues during last Sunday’s Daytona 500. Also, Michael Waltrip Racing teammates Michael Waltrip and Martin Truex Jr. were forced to nurse their cars home at Daytona due to problems with their own TRD powerplants.
Following the engine change, Hamlin posted the 15th-fastest lap of Sprint Cup final practice, which was paced by polesitter Mark Martin. Martin, who also led this morning’s first practice session, posted a hot lap of 134.248 miles per hour in his No. 55 MWR Camry and appears to have the fastest ride this weekend at PIR.
Three of the top 5 times in final practice were posted by Toyota drivers: Martin at the top, then Kyle Busch with the second-fastest lap (133.904 mph), and Clint Bowyer with the fifth-fastest lap (133.526 mph). Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards were third and fourth-quickest, respectively.
Seattle Supercross by the numbers: Three riders separated by 17 points
Webb and Tomac won the last four championships with two apiece in alternating years, but they were not one another’s primary rival for most of those seasons. On the average, however, the past four years show an incredible similarity with average points earned of 21.0 for Webb and 21.3 for Tomac. With five wins so far this season, Tomac (23 wins) leads Webb (19) in victories but Webb (43) edges Tomac (41) in podium finishes during this span.
Sexton still has a lot to say and after winning last week in Detroit, he is speaking up. The Supercross numbers are against him entering Seattle, however, because a points’ deficit this large after Round 10 has been erased only once. In 1983 David Bailey was 47 points behind Bob Hannah, and like Sexton he was also in third place. Bailey took the points’ lead with one race remaining.
The seven points Sexton was penalized last week for jumping in a red cross flag section in Detroit could prove extremely costly.
In fact, it has been a series of mistakes that has cost Sexton the most. In the last two weeks, he lost 10 points with a 10th-place finish to go with his penalty. Erase those, and all three riders hold their fate in their hands.
Plessinger’s heartbreak in Detroit is still fresh, but the upside of his run is that was his best of the season and could turn his fortunes around. Prior to that race, he led only seven laps in three mains. He was up front for 20 laps in Detroit with five of those being the fastest on the track.
Last week’s win by Hunter Lawrence tied him with his brother Jett Lawrence for 17th on the all-time wins’ list. With the focus shifting to 250 West for the next two rounds, Jett has a great opportunity to pull back ahead. The real test will be at the first East / West Showdown in East Rutherford, New Jersey on April 22.
Last Five Seattle Winners
450s 2022: Eli Tomac
2019: Marvin Musquin
2018: Eli Tomac
2017: Marvin Musquin
2014: Ryan Villopoto