CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The jolts are more jarring, the impacts feel harder and the pain hangs on longer for NASCAR drivers in the first season of the Next Gen car.
Stories of sore backs, headaches and damaged ribs that don't heal as quickly as they did in the past are more common heading into the opening race of the Cup Series playoffs Sunday at South Carolina's Darlington Raceway.
Just ask Joe Gibbs Racing veteran Denny Hamlin, part of a massive wreck late in last weekend's regular-season finale at Daytona International Speedway. He has already pulled out of the second-tier Xfinity Series race Saturday at Darlington due to continuing soreness in his neck, ribs and back.
"It feels like I got beat up in a bar and someone was kicking me in the ribs while I was on the ground," Hamlin said Thursday.