Can Martin Truex Jr Deliver Frenemy Denny Hamlin a Big Upset at Unpredictable Daytona Against All Odds?

Published 02/09/2024, 7:58 AM EST

Follow Us

via Imago

At the end of 2022, Martin Truex Jr was considering retiring from NASCAR. Fast forward to 2024, and the No.19 Toyota driver is running for a maiden win in the Daytona 500. Having claimed the Cup Series championship in 2017, there is little left to win for the 43-year-old in NASCAR apart from an elusive win at the Daytona International Speedway. However, his teammate and championship rival, Denny Hamlin, is a big rock in his path.

America’s Favorite Video Today

The No.11 driver is easily one of the favorites to win the 2024 Daytona 500. Being a 3-time winner of the Great American Race and coming off a win in Clash at the Coliseum, Denny Hamlin is the driver to watch out for. But, the quintessential characteristic of the Daytona 500 is that it produces many unexpected winners. In the past half-decade, we have seen Austin Dillon, Michael McDowell, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr win it. This takes us back to the question- could Martin Truex Jr finally end his winless streak at Daytona?

History doesn’t back Martin Truex Jr for a win at Daytona

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

If we look at Truex Jr’s previous performances at the Daytona International Speedway, it is a shadow of the glorious Cup Series career he has carved. In 37 appearances at the DIS, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver has recorded no wins, three top-5s and six top-10s. Having led only 144 laps, Martin Truex Jr has been empirically poor at Daytona.

Objectively, Daytona is Truex Jr’s third-worst racetrack with an average finish of 21.4. However, that would have been different if not for Denny Hamlin. In 2016, Martin Truex Jr earned his best result in the Daytona 500 with a P2 finish. And it was Hamlin who beat him to the checkered line by a photo frame finish where the #11 led the #19 Toyota by 0.010 seconds.

Trending

Get instantly notified of the hottest NASCAR stories via Google! Click on Follow Us and Tap the Blue Star.

Follow Us

Denny Hamlin didn’t just prohibit Truex Jr from breaking the winless streak; he also won his maiden Daytona 500. Hamlin eventually won two more Daytona 500s in 2019 and 2020, but the effort to beat his teammate in 2016 is the closest finish since the introduction of electric scoring. Returning to 2024, Martin Truex Jr has started his year on a decent note.

USA Today via Reuters

A P9 finish at the Coliseum on Saturday is a good confidence booster to work on the upcoming races. With the JGR cars of Ty Gibbs and Denny Hamlin competing for the win, he would have wished for a better finish. A twist of fate could propel him to the victory lane on February 17, but that seems unlikely. On the other hand, Hamlin could claim a fourth Daytona 500 after winning his fourth Clash last week.

Watch This Story: Kyle Larson Confesses Bubba Wallace Continuous Shenangians Drove Him To His Limits 

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Denny Hamlin is the apparent favorite for the 2024 Daytona 500

Hamlin’s Daytona portfolio is only second to ‘The King,’ Richard Petty. Following Petty’s seven victories with three of his own, Hamlin is tied for the second-highest Daytona 500 wins with Jeff Gordon. However, apart from the Daytona 500, Denny Hamlin has never won at the DIS. In 36 starts at the prestigious speedway, he has an average finish of 11.0 and led 666 laps.

A few days ago, the 51-time Cup race winner also revealed that he had recovered from an off-season shoulder surgery. The shoulder injury had bothered Hamlin for a long period in 2023 and even hindered him in the playoffs. With no physical limitations for Denny Hamlin in one of the fastest cars on the grid, it is hard to name a stronger candidate for February 17.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

As for his contest with Martin Truex Jr for the championship, it is an unpredictable affair. Over the years, Denny has faced Lady Luck’s wrath several times. Truex Jr had a splendid season in 2023 that landed him the regular season championship. But, a slump in the playoffs derailed his title challenge that held on to the Round of 8 due to his enormous points tally. Well, lightning could strike but going by experience and current form, Denny Hamlin takes the upper hand ahead of Truex Jr.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

ADVERTISEMENT

Written by:

Ansuman Abhisek

843Articles

One take at a time

Ansuman Abhisek is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. Even before he made his way into the world of motorsports, he had already made a name for himself in the sports journalism field by working as a writer for a few media houses. Now, having covered multiple Cup races live, he has often been the first to report on-track incidents and also provide his readers with an in-depth analysis of the same.
Show More>

Edited by:

Rohan Karnad

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

EDITORS' PICK

America’s Favorite Video Today