Denny Hamlin, known for being honest and opinionated, said Friday that NASCAR racing is "not about just all-out speed anymore."
Speaking to reporters at Kentucky Speedway, Hamlin observed that because the cars are so aero-sensitive and the rules are restricted on the current model Cup car, all the cars are basically going the same speed.
"That's why we've seen the limited amount of passing for the lead and things like that on regular racetracks that we've been accustomed to," Hamlin said. "Everyone is running so even, and when you run even, there's no passing."
Hamlin's comments followed the words of Carl Edwards, who also criticized the current Sprint Cup car recently. Though other drivers have made similar comments over the past couple years, Hamlin's words were a bit more blunt than some others.
"We can't overcome track position," Hamlin said. "The aero is such a big factor nowadays and we're running such high speeds that it's tough. (We've got) the best drivers in the world and you can't make passes like you used to because of the speeds are up."
If cars are varied in speed, Hamlin said there's a lot of "overtaking" on the track. But equal speeds have placed a high priority on track position and strategy.
Teams have virtually tapped out all they can get out of the current car, Hamlin said, and they're in such a tight box that there are no advancements that can be made.
"There's no new development that we can really do to these cars that's going to gain us a half-second over somebody else to make where we can pass," he said.
The positive has been an increase of first-time winners – Regan Smith won the Southern 500 at Darlington because he chose track position over fresh tires – and different faces in Victory Lane.
"It's good in the competition sense that really these races anyone can win," Hamlin said. "But it's just who puts themselves in position up front with 50 to go."