Gas 'N' Go: Who Rebounds Better from Rough 2013 Season?

Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart

Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin (11) will be looking to bounce back next season from physical setbacks this year. (Photo: Getty Images)

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The pits are open again and, MotorRacingNetwork.com's Pete Pistone and Dustin Long each answer this week's featured question in "Gas 'N' Go."

Brian Vickers, Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin will not run a full season this year because of injuries or health issues. Who finishes better next year?

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MRN Staff

Answer

Pete Pistone
Pete Pistone

There's no way Denny Hamlin can run the way he has this season again in 2014, so I'm going with the Joe Gibbs Racing driver. Of the three, Hamlin's physical challenges seem to be less of a concern than what's facing Stewart or Vickers. While Hamlin did miss races earlier in the year after hurting his back in the March Fontana crash, he insists, despite some discomfort at times, he hasn't been hindered by the injury. 

The FedEx No. 11 team is too talented to suffer through the same kind of performance that has permeated this season for a second straight year. There's no doubt that some experimentation is going on with Hamlin's ride to help JGR teammates Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch in the Chase. Once the calendar turns to a new campaign, I expect Hamlin and company go back to the competitive ways that escaped them in 2013.

Dustin Long
Dustin Long

Pete’s right. There’s no way that Denny Hamlin will run this poorly next year, but Hamlin won’t the top finisher among those sidelined the rest of this season. Tony Stewart will return as strong as ever. I wouldn’t even be surprised if he finally scores his first Daytona 500 victory next year.

There’s no doubt that Stewart faces some challenges and not just in his recovery. There are many questions with his organization expanding to four teams next year. Still, Stewart often does his best when others discount him. Of the nine previous years he finished outside the top five in points, he came back the following season and placed higher in the points six times. Only once before this season had he scored one victory in a season. He won four races the following season. Expect Stewart to make an impact next season.

 

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