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Petty Disagreement

by Robb Reel

So there are two injury stories in NASCAR this week.  They boil down to the same thing: should a driver make different choices regarding whether to drive in the face of injury or potential injury?  We'll talk about Tony Stewart  in another post.

Back in May, Denny Hamlin returned to the driver's seat from a back injury.  There was still a lot of Sprint Cup season left and it made sense to gamble on putting the best driver possible behind the wheel of the #11 FedEx Toyota.  Now, it's August and Hamlin is dead in the water as far as the Chase goes.  So analyst Kyle Petty, a longtime driver himself and son of the legendary Richard Petty, suggested that Hamlin should pack it in, let someone else drive the rest of the year and let himself heal for next season.  Hamlin didn't take too kindly to it.

Here's the thing: Petty is right.

Denny is determined to stay behind the wheel and give the best he can to the sponsors and the fans for this season.  That's laudable but it completely ignores his own worth as a long-term commodity.  There is greater value to those sponsors and fans in a healthy Hamlin having a genuine shot at the 2014 Sprint Cup.  I get why he's staying in, but I don't think he gets why he should get out.

I will add this, though: if what Hamlin says about Petty is true, he won't last long as an analyst.  If Kyle really isn't doing his homework and really not connecting with current drivers, he's not going to be able to provide the analysis to make the broadcast successful.  Moreover, if the players on the ground and in the garage don't trust you or like you, you won't get very far on, or off, the track.

It seems as if both men have some thinking to do about their futures.