Over the last several races, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson have been immersed in a battle for the NASCAR Cup Series regular season championship — and the coveted 15 additional playoff points that come with it. Now, it has all come down to Saturday night’s regular season finale at Daytona where Larson will arrive with a somewhat comfortable but hardly insurmountable 28-point lead over Hamlin for the regular season crown. So what’s the strategy for the two regular season title combatants going into the pivotal event?
“We’ll just try to get every point that we can and go for the win,” said Hamlin, a winner of three Daytona 500s. “We’ll do everything we can.” After last Sunday’s race at Michigan, Larson admitted he drove a bit conservatively in an effort to preserve his lead over Hamlin heading to Daytona. “I had points on my mind a little bit too much,” said Larson, who finished third. “I'm looking in my mirror. I saw the 11 (Hamlin) falling back some. I just didn't want to screw it up, really. I felt like I had to weigh the risk versus reward. I could risk going for the win, not having it work out, end up finishing 30 something and lose the point lead going into Daytona. Or I could be a little bit more cautious and beat Denny by a couple spots, which is what we did.”
Larson’s strategy for Daytona isn’t overly complicated. “Daytona is Daytona,” he said. “I don't typically see the checkered flag, I feel like, too often there. We'll see. But glad to go in there with 28 points on Denny.”