Denny Hamlin Overhauls His Pit Crew After A Series Of Race-Day Mistakes

Denny Hamlin's crew was overhauled Wednesday, three days after the driver blamed the group for costing him a win.

Hamlin was critical of his crew after Sunday's race at Darlington Raceway, where he led a race-high 179 laps but couldn't contend for the win because of an error during a late pit stop. He was in second when he entered the pits, but two lug nuts were dropped and Hamlin plummeted to 16th.

Although he rallied to finish second, he was furious with his crew and rattled off a list of races he should have won this season. Hamlin, who won two races and finished third in the points last year as a rookie, is winless this season despite having led a series-high 563 laps in the five Car of Tomorrow races.

"If we lose by 20-30 points when it comes down to the championship, we know exactly where we lost it, and that's on pit road," Hamlin said. "I gave away Phoenix, that's my fault. But there's two to three other races that we had the best car most all day, and even at the end, and just gave it away on pit road."

The team met Monday to discuss changes, and arrived at Wednesday night's Pit Crew Challenge with a new roster.

Three crew members were replaced and two were shuffled to new jobs. Only two of the original crew members retained their old position.

Dennis Terry was moved from rear tire changer to front tire changer, replacing Donnie Brown. Jonathan Sherman was added as the rear tire changer. Scott Wood was moved from gas man to jackman, replacing Kris Webb. Brad Rothlin is the new gas man.

Scott Merritt was added as the new front tire carrier, replacing Chad Edwards. Heath Cherry remains the rear tire carrier, and John Eicher will continue to handle the catch can.

Joe Gibbs Racing president J.D. Gibbs said Hamlin spoke out of frustration after the race, but said the team would make changes if needed.

"It's a lot like football, pretty cut and dry: You either get it done or get replaced," said Gibbs, son of Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, the race team owner.

"The thing we've kind of noticed is that it's not one person, though. It's inconsistency across the board and it has to get better."

Hamlin, who admitted he was "pretty mad" after the race, said his initial thought was to fire crew members.

"It just goes on and on every week," he said. "I think their head gets in the way of their hands."

But he later said he'd prefer his current group improve rather than start over with a new crew.

Story Courtesy: cbs.sportsline.com & AP Wire Reports


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