As Darian Grubb begins his six-week suspension because of the penalties levied by NASCAR after Sunday's race at Indianapolis, his driver Denny Hamlin doesn't think it'll change much at the track without his crew chief.
Hamlin said Friday that Grubb and interim crew chief Mike Wheeler will be in constant contact. Plus, Hamlin's been with Wheeler for 10 years.
"I think not only the technology that you have – the communication technology – but really I'm in pretty good hands," Hamlin said. "I'm with the guy that I've been with for 10 years. I've been with Mike Wheeler longer than I've been with anyone in the Cup Series. We worked together a lot and pretty confident in the job that he's going to do, but on top of that then I get who was my car chief for 10 years, get him back to the race track. Even though it's tough losing those guys and it's tough for them especially I don't think things will change at the race track too much. Darian is in constant contact with Wheels at all times and myself. So, it's not too bad as far as that's concerned."
Wheeler has also served as Hamlin's interim crew chief before. Well, in a limited capacity. In 2012 at New Hampshire, Wheeler was in charge of Hamlin's team for practice and qualifying as Grubb was home because of the birth of his child.
The team is currently appealing the penalties, but instead of waiting, Grubb and car chief Wesley Sherrill started to serve their suspensions immediately. That means that the suspension is guaranteed to be over before the Chase begins. Had the team had Grubb and Sherrill wait and the entire penalties were upheld, the suspensions would have bled over into the Chase.
And during the (presumed) six weeks of their absence, Hamlin still likes his team's chances.
"Well, you use stuff like this as motivation to go out there and prove that you can run fast no matter what and you can run well," Hamlin said. "We were on a run there last really month and a half to two months that I feel like our cars were really starting to turn the corner. So, really, I'm excited about what these next six weeks brings. We've got some great race tracks ahead of us – a lot of them which we feel like we can win."
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