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via Imago

via Imago

Is 2024 going to be the year, when Denny Hamlin finally wins his first-ever NASCAR Cup Series championship? Going by his run of results in 13 starts so far this season, he is one of the contenders to win the title. With three wins to his name and the playoffs spot secured, the #11 Toyota driver does look pretty solid in all departments. But Hamlin just isn’t going to let complacency creep inside of his team and try to find a way to keep churning out consistent results.

However, during the 1-on-1 interview, Bob Pockrass highlighted the trend of a late comeback from Jimmie Johnson’s five consecutive title wins. Trying to make a point that the #11 team with their dominant run won’t be playing catch up to the leading pack. Despite the prime example, the JGR driver was pretty content about the season and even drew similarities between his team and Johnson’s championship-winning side.

Denny Hamlin has a stern opinion about strong teams and drivers

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Playing catch-up in the Next Gen car certainly does not fare well for the drivers. Previous Cup Series champions, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano would agree to this, considering they have yet to secure their playoff spots for the 2024 season, while Jimmie Johnson and his team found a way to bounce back and clinch those titles. Hamlin believes those results were purely based on the merit of the team’s performances over the course of the season.

Sharing his take on Johnson’s trend of comeback runs, winning five consecutive championships from 2006–10, Hamlin stated, “He still won five straight titles. That’s the only caveat to it is he still found a way because his team was strong and he was strong. Strong teams, strong drivers will still find a way to have an advantage over the rest of the field and eventually catch up.”

While it feels like the #11 has cracked the code with the new car, their superspeedway runs haven’t been a huge success this season. In all three events at Dayton, Atlanta, and Talladega, Hamlin has finished outside the top-15 position. Acknowledging the room for improvement, the veteran JGR driver added, “And, certainly, if you feel like you’re one of the leaders, you still feel like there’s margins in which you can get better — and certainly we have some.”

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Even in the All-Star race, Denny Hamlin’s consistent run was on display as he finished 4th in the exhibition event. However, with the Coca-Cola 600 lined up, he will look to make amends for his last year’s run that ended on a sour note.

Hamlin is looking to avoid mistakes at Charlotte

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The Florida native has experienced the best and worst feelings competing in the taxing Coca-Cola 600 race. In his first run at the historic race with the Next Gen car, he managed his first-ever win, but the next year he ended with a DNF finish. It’s a unique race, for sure, but one that comes with a fair share of challenges for the drivers. It demands both physical and mental strength, or it can lead to detrimental outcomes.

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Hamlin, sharing his take on the toughness of NASCAR’s longest race, added, “Mentally, probably, the race is so long to begin with and I just think when you have to grind through it and your car is such on edge at that racetrack anyway, you’ve got that extra 100 miles, there’s just more opportunities to mess up.”

Furthermore, the emphasis for Denny Hamlin and his team will be to collect more and more playoff points. Thus trying to put the pieces together to make the championship four.