Denny Hamlin’s season has been an example of sustained excellence.
After winning the season-opening Daytona 500 – his second career victory in the sport’s most famous race – he has steadily answered with victories on a wide variety of venues and turned in convincing showings even when he hasn’t hoisted a trophy. He is the most recent winner at this week’s Texas Motor Speedway, he won on the unique Pocono 2.5-miler this summer, answered that with a win from the pole position at Bristol Motor Speedway and then won a Playoff race at the Kansas two weeks ago.
His five victories mark the second-largest single-season trophy haul for the 38-year old Virginian. He won eight times in his 2010 championship runner-up season. His 18 top-five finishes this year is a personal best and his 22 top-10 efforts ties a personal high set in 2016 and 2017. He has the most top-five finishes in the series and only Kyle Busch (24) and Kevin Harvick (23) have more top 10 results.
While some of his closest competitors are enduring months of winless efforts, Hamlin has been consistent – especially on his game for the Playoffs. He has five top-five finishes through the opening seven Playoff races, winning a pair of pole positions (at Dover and Martinsville) and notching that win at Kansas – his first there since 2012. He’s led 404 laps in the seven Playoff races – 51.9 percent of his entire season total (777).
Hamlin arrives in Fort Worth tied with his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch for the most wins (three) there among the championship-eligible Playoff drivers. He’s had three top-10 finishes in the last eight Texas races and is one of only three drivers (Jimmie Johnson – 2015 and Carl Edwards – 2008) to score a season sweep at the track (2010).