NASCAR’s corporate suite comes up with a bright new idea every year. Denny Hamlin is his third month podcasting and has shown at least as much imagination.
Hamlin’s latest idea trumps the schedule with an infusion of street courses (2021), moving the Busch Light Clash to a quarter-mile oval (2022), or ousting Texas Motor Speedway in favor of North Wilkesboro for the All-Star race (2023) .
Best of all, he’s innocent of NASCAR’s shady idea of hosting a points race on the streets of Chicago this summer.
Denny Hamlin’s new Actions Detrimental is already a must-listen podcast
We know NASCAR listens to Denny Hamlins Actions Malicious Podcast every week. That became clear when they fined him $50,000 and deducted 25 points from the driver of the #11 Toyota for admitting to driving Ross Chastain into the wall. They saw the incident with their own eyes and decided not to believe it until Hamlin spoke about it.
Hamlin’s weekly podcast, launched with Dirty Mo Media at the start of the Cup Series season, is a breath of fresh air. The 48-time winner (plus 17 more checkered flags in the Xfinity series) is articulate and focused. His insight into the previous race sometimes sheds light on things fans might have missed, but his true talent is in offering honest takes and breakneck ideas like those on this week’s show.
Hamlin proposes an in-season tournament that goes well beyond simply handing out money to drivers for cumulative performance in a handful of races, like the old Winston Million used to do.
Denny Hamlin has proposed a competition within the Cup Series
Cup Series veteran Denny Hamlin wants NASCAR to introduce an in-season single-elimination tournament to be run in the summer to take advantage of the deadlock on the calendar when the sport competes primarily with baseball and golf.
Hamlin wants to seed drivers from first to 32nd placend based on points after 10 weeks of the season, then run a single-elimination head-to-head tournament that spans the next five weeks. The proposed payout is $3 million to the winner.
“We would be very competitive for that,” said Hamlin.
There is no great doubt about that. Based solely on skill and equipment, No. 29 Austin Dillon shouldn’t stand a chance in the first round of a hypothetical 2023 tournament against No. 4 Kyle Larson, who has won twice this season. But despite Dillon’s miserable start, he’s still finished ahead of the Hendrick Motorsports star in three of the first 10 races.
Hamlin hails the growth of legalized betting through online sports betting and also proposes a $50 million prize to be shared by all fans picking a perfect bracket.
“Casual fans would be all over the place,” Hamlin said. “Sports bettors get bored in the summer when they can only bet on MLB. It would generate so much chatter and content.”
A $50 million prize is way off the mark considering there are only 65,536 possible combinations of outcomes, but that doesn’t mean Hamlin isn’t into something here.
Optimizations that would improve the tournament concept
Denny Hamlin has obviously given some thought to his suggestion for a NASCAR tournament during the season, and what he envisions is even better than the Xfinity Series 4 Cash, where only four drivers in each of the four races have something special at stake .
That being said, Hamlin’s vision for the event needs to address a few concerns:
- Ten races isn’t enough to plant the seed because then the tournament would start early in the NBA and NHL playoffs. Remember, the idea is to do this when MLB is the only major team sport vying for attention. The ideal would be to start the week after the Coca-Cola 600.
- That extra prize money available to drivers has to come from somewhere, but the question is where? Being a corporate sponsor rather than NASCAR detracts from the sponsors who own the naming rights to the races.
- Lastly, it might be difficult to get buy-in from team owners. They already encounter the occasional problem of teammates fighting each other too aggressively when a win is at stake. If it’s a seven-figure prize, then the stakes and emotions go up.
Finally, another tweak could be to split the round of 16 into two races instead of deciding all 16 pre-quarterfinalists at once. That might be a bit too much to keep track of all at once when there’s still a win at stake.
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