It may have seemed like a good decision at the time for Denny Hamlin to attempt some Jedi mind tricks on Richard Childress Racing. But as we all know around here, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick aren't Vader. That's someone else.
While shooting hoops at the College Basketball Experience in Kansas City Thursday, Hamlin admitted again that he let his emotions speak when he called out RCR in the wake of Bowyer's 150 point penalty.
On Thursday in Kansas City, Hamlin said his accusations were, “More defensive than anything else. When Clint said some things, it kind of set some things off in me that I probably shouldn’t have said but it is just one of those things where you get defensive.
“It doesn’t matter where you’re from, when somebody talks about your college basketball team or your family, you get defensive. That’s what happened.”
While trash talking may be entertaining -- and gives us some great content -- it's ultimately not very productive. Hamlin admitted that too.
“You’ve got to worry about yourself," Hamlin said. “For me, messing with those guys (Bowyer and Harvick), or them messing with me, it’s not going to win any of us a championship and I don’t think any of us want Jimmie (Johnson) to win another one. I think we need to stay focused.”
Hamlin isn't short on confidence about preventing Vader from winning a fifth consecutive championship. And why should he be? He's 35 points ahead of Johnson and wasn't expecting to be at the top of the points standings this early in the Chase.
"This is the best I've ever run over the course of a season; the most opportunities I've had to win," Hamlin said. "And last year, our performance really was good enough to win a championship had it not been for some blown engines here and there and what not, so for me, last year, we very well could have won it. This year, I am much better than I was last year and in a better spot to win in."
Part of that comes, Hamlin says, from an increased ability to let bad things go. He pointed to Atlanta where he sat on the pole and led for the first part of the race before his engine expired. In the past, something like that out of his control would get to him. Now? Not so much.
"For sure. And it was the things that I couldn't do anything about. It's something that I can't help, so why am I getting so upset or pissed off about it? I think it's important for me to not take myself so seriously at times or when bad things go wrong. Because, really, this year has been our biggest bounceback year as far as when we have a bad finish, it doesn't affect our team. When we leave the racetrack, we're done with it. And that's something that I think championship teams have over other teams is their willingness to let bad weekends go."
That championship team is undoubtedly Johnson and the 48 team, and Hamlin certainly has their public approach down pat.
"We can't harp on those things," Hamlin said. "We can't let them bother us. We can't worry about where other Chasers are finishing or running during the course of a race. For myself, I think that's important, and if we can stay focused and keep our eyes on the prize then our results are going to speak for themselves."