The final race of the 2023 regular season in NASCAR will see plenty of things on the line for all drivers in the field. With 15 of the 16 playoff spots already claimed, one final spot remains.
With all that on the line, and 17 drivers all still fighting for that last spot, Saturday night's Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona should have plenty of drama and likely incidents.
One driver who expects the race to be a crash fest is Denny Hamlin, who thinks there will be even more carnage than normal. He made that declaration clear on this week's episode of his podcast "Actions Detrimental with Denny Hamlin."
"I think it's going to be a... just an absolute crash fest." - @dennyhamlin
How intense is the racing going to be this weekend?
— Dirty Mo Media (@DirtyMoMedia) August 23, 2023
"I do think this is going to be an absolute crash fest," Hamlin said. "I think that the pushes are gonna get too extreme? Does anybody know the weather? Travis, check the weather for me at Daytona. This will tell a lot about a few things."
Hamlin isn't wrong. With so many drivers seeking a last-ditch win, the intensity will be high from the drop of the green flag until the checkered flag waves. Hamlin has a challenge ahead of himself as he still has a chance to catch teammate Martin Truex Jr. for the regular season title.
The summer Daytona race in Hamlin's mind always seems to be a crash fest, and while he isn't pushing for his teammate to wreck on Saturday, he likely needs Truex to get caught up in an incident if he wants to win the regular season title. He made that point very clear.
"I just think that it always is a crash fest when you see the checkered flag fall at the Summer Daytona race. There's very few cars in the picture. I need to get stage points and I need Martin to probably get caught up in a wreck. I mean, if I get stage point I only need to beat him by... yeah he needs to get in a wreck," Hamlin said.
If this race plays out like Hamlin believes it is going to, we will likely see a new winner, which isn't going to make Hamlin any happier unless it is his own driver, Bubba Wallace, who currently holds the final playoff spot.
Hamlin's kind of in a jam, especially if the crash fest takes out his driver, or even himself. Time will tell, but Hamlin has been right about a lot of things this season, so a crash fest seems very likely.
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