Sunday June 23rd, 2024 4:24PM
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Chasing his first title, Denny Hamlin is off to a fast 2024

By Holly Cain NASCAR Wire Service

It is a fitting description.

“We’re in the groove right now,” Denny Hamlin said during his race winner’s press conference at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway on Sunday. And who could argue with that. The driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota had just hoisted his third trophy in 11 NASCAR Cup Series races, tying him with Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron for most wins on the season.

Only a week earlier he and his 23XI Racing team co-owner, NBA legend Michael Jordan were celebrating a win with their driver Tyler Reddick at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. It’s been a heck of a season start with every reason to expect the good times to keep rolling – whether it’s Hamlin or his 23XI Racing team winning.

Hamlin heads to Kansas Speedway for Sunday’s AdventHealth 400 (3 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, and WDUN AM 550 & FM 102.9) as the defending winner of that race, and he’s a former winner everywhere the series has a points race for the next month. He’s got four victories at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and he is the defending winner of the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway held on Memorial Day weekend.

“It’s been a good season,” Hamlin conceded with a smile. “I don’t know how else to explain it. … Half of ‘em we’ve been in Victory Lane. The other ones, I’ve been right there with a shot to win ‘em.”

Hamlin is feeling so confident in himself and his team, he even called his shot – ala Babe Ruth – predicting a win Sunday on his weekly podcast, “Actions Detrimental” leading into Dover. Some may have thought it brash, but Hamlin backed it up and there’s a lot of reason to understand why he’s feeling so good.

“I expect to win every week,” the 43-year-old said. “There’s no reason I shouldn’t expect to win.

“This little stretch right here before the All-Star break between Dover, Kansas, Darlington, I mean, these are all kind of right in my wheelhouse. Certainly, feel pretty good about it.”

The truth is, Hamlin is feeling pretty good in general. His confidence, however, is matched by a strong motivation that is partly a result of realizing it’s “go-time” in his 20-year fulltime career.

The Dover win was Hamlin’s 54th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, tying him with NASCAR Hall of Famer and one of the sport’s great pioneers, Lee Petty. And reaching that kind of elevated status – such an important accomplishment – isn’t something Hamlin takes lightly.

Only Kyle Busch has more wins in the NASCAR Cup Series (63) than Hamlin (54) among active drivers. And only 11 more drivers in all of NASCAR history have more series victories than Hamlin. And there’s every reason to believe Hamlin will move farther up that list this season.

“If you put all the names on the list in the order of the wins that they have, I don’t know, I see my name as just an outlier, one that sticks out like it doesn’t really belong there,” Hamlin said.

“I’ve been doing it a long time. You take for granted all the wins that you’ve had. All we think about is the ones we didn’t win. I’m like, ‘Man, I feel like I should have 80 to 90, realistically.’ But everyone has those stories.

“It’s my personal goal, in my career, I want to get to a number that puts me well inside that top-10 of race winners. I think that will speak for itself and the resume.”

  • Associated Categories: Sports, NASCAR News, NASCAR Cup
  • Associated Tags: nascar, denny hamlin, NASCAR Cup Series
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