Can Denny Hamlin Prove His Daytona Prowess in Next Gen Era in 2024?

Published 02/12/2024, 7:55 AM EST

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In a career spanning almost two decades, Denny Hamlin has had it all with 52 career wins to his name and countless indelible moments that will be forever etched in the history of the sport. And throughout his time, Hamlin has remained a force to be reckoned with. His consistency is something most drivers envy and his outspoken, brash attitude tops the list, putting him up there with some of the sport’s greatest drivers.

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While the 43-year-old driver is yet to pick up his maiden Cup Series title, Hamlin, in a recent interview with WTVR CBS 6, has made it clear that though a title is something that he yearns for, his main focus is to achieve his personal goal.

We can talk about championships but there’s been champions with 12 wins total, right? And so I just would rather get in the upper echelon of race winners,” said the JGR veteran. But with the changing tide of NASCAR competition and alteration in his equipment, can he do that? Will be able to make it to the victory lane at Daytona for a fourth time in the current Next-Gen era?

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Denny Hamlin will make it his fourth Daytona 500 victory, or will he?

As Daytona 500 goes, no one in the current generation of racers has done it better than Denny Hamlin. In total, Hamlin has conquered the high-speed, fast-flowing speedway a whopping three times; in 2016, and a back-to-back win in 2019 and 2020. However, the driver hasn’t had the same level of success once the organization switched to the Next-Gen platform.

While the driver has racked up wins at other venues, a win at the fabled track is still missing in his resume, much like the championship itself. But does that mean he doesn’t have a shot? Well, one thing that might be causing a little hiccup is Hamlin’s shoulder injury, which the driver is slowly recovering from.

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Ahead of the pre-season exhibition at the Clash, the veteran opened up about the injury and he is skeptical about his well-being. Besides that, another hurdle is the driver’s love story with ill fate and misfortune. Just look at the #11’s fate last year.

Hamlin was on a blitzkrieg until the last few rounds when his Toyota Camry was caught off guard with mechanical faults. But does that translate to a Next-Gen problem?

Well, the short answer is yes and no. However, Hamlin is confident that he will steer through to rack up wins with his updated TRD Camry. Speaking to Bob Pockrass, Hamlin said:

This is the first car that we designed around the current rules package that we have. We designed the other Next-Gen car and then all the rules changed in December before Next-Gen came out. And so it certainly, you know, we felt like this is the first car that we’ve really been to work around. The rules that we’ve got, it was a collaboration between Toyota, JGR, 2311, and all those guys to come up with this and hopefully it’ll be better.” 

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Another aspect one might take into consideration is the resurgence of the Fords. The RFK Racing cars have re-emerged from the abyss to claim the last race at the venue, and they certainly can be a threat to Hamlin’s Daytona aspirations. But the veteran’s chances on Sunday of picking up his fourth Daytona win and his first in the Next-Gen car is very real.

2024 Daytona 500 Odds – Hamlin rides on a +1000 bet

His earlier wins and his tenacity to chase the win, no matter what, makes Hamlin anyone’s betting favorite. The driver from time and time again has proven that he is more than just a result of a marketing gimmick. While he has yet to claim a title, the numbers under his belt certainly speak for themselves. As Hamlin says, there are champions with just 12 career wins and Hamlin is not one of them.

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To top it all off, the controversialist veteran started on the right foot, acing the first race of 2024 and then taunted the crowd as they stood there in total disbelief. As the “Great American Race” is right around the corner, let us look at Hamlin’s odds.

According to Hard Rock Bet, the 43-year-old has the best odds at +1000 to win the race, along with reigning Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney.

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While the odds are ever-changing, Hamlin’s history at the venue and the world of experience he has garnered truly makes him a legit contender.

Daytona 500 Rules: Distance, Surface, Qualification, Laps & Turns of NASCAR’s Season-Opener

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Written by:

Kishore R

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One take at a time

Kishore is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. He actively covers live events and does detailed race analyses, helping fans understand the very nitty gritties of the sport. Using the right mix of storytelling and game expertise, Kishore can take his readers on a journey to see how a particular race was for some of their most loved drivers, like Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott.
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Edited by:

Rohan Karnad

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