This past Sunday’s Daytona 500, which featured more than one multi-car wreck that collected numerous contenders, proved disappointing for several of last year’s playoff drivers who hoped to begin 2022 on a strong note. Among the drivers who left the 2.5-mile superspeedway less-than-pleased was three-time Daytona 500 winner and perennial championship contender Denny Hamlin, who finished 37th in the 40-car field after getting caught up in a wreck triggered when Brad Keselowski tagged the bumper of rookie Harrison Burton while running in the middle of a big pack.
Hamlin, 38th-place finisher Willam Byron, and others involved in that melee are eager to bounce back this weekend at Auto Club Speedway where the racing figures to be considerably tamer and more spread out because ACS is not a superspeedway like Daytona and Talladega where melees are par for the course.
“The 6 (Keselowski) was pushing the 21 (Burton), and you could see the 21 was kind of getting out of control there, so you know the mindset was that you’ve got to back off, but I think the 6 was just insistent on pushing him at all costs and eventually turned the 21 around,” Hamlin said of the Daytona accident that ruined his day after just 63 of 201 laps. “Tough, you know, considering it was just for the stage. We were kind of boxed in there where I noticed that something was going to happen, but I was boxed in, I was behind a teammate, and I wanted to try to help. Again, just too aggressive pushing right there when they weren’t lined up and in control.”