Denny Hamlin Expects Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez & Ty Gibbs to Make It to Playoffs in 2024

Published 02/12/2024, 11:45 AM EST

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The 2024 season launched with a blast at the Clash and is pacing for a wild run through the competitive playoff races. While fans await this year’s Daytona 500, there’s already talks of the playoffs. NASCAR’s playoffs can be a nasty business: drivers and teams stake everything to advance to the next stage. Last year saw a few highly skilled drivers narrowly missing getting qualified in the playoffs. This year, Denny Hamlin expects them to come back with a roar.

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16 drivers claw their way up the ranks in the playoff system, including 4 rounds of playoffs. And Denny Hamlin has his eye on four drivers.

Denny Hamlin thinks competition is rife for 2024 playoffs

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On his podcast ‘Actions Detrimental,’ Denny Hamlin recently pinned his hopes on four drivers. Co-host Jared Allen said that all drivers above the 20-21 standings have a strong chance to win this year. Hamlin agreed: “like the playoffs last year, Alex Bowman, Suarez, Ty Gibbs, Chase Elliott…they should make the playoffs!…I mean that is a very modest goal, when you’re driving one of these cars that they are driving.”

He further said, “If you’re gonna go and pencil in, Chase Elliott, Ty Gibbs, they’re all on rides that are coming. Alex Bowman, he’s gonna have a comeback season. Daniel Suarez, he’s gonna go forward you would think. Who are you taking out?”

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Hamlin further emphasized the unpredictable nature of the playoffs. “Yeah, you’re gonna have to jump quite a few, and you’re always gonna have the two drivers that win that you just don’t plan for. On a super speedway, like McDowell at the Indy last year, they weren’t gonna make it in on points, but they did it last year.”

Hamlin himself gave a stellar performance at the playoff races last year. His playoff victory at the Bristol Motor Speedway made history. In the 500-lap race, he led 142 laps. He steered into Victory Lane by a 2.437 margin after overtaking Kyle Larson. Hamlin’s Bristol success was part of a four-race streak of top-5 finishes. There he made his iconic dialogue: “I beat your favorite driver!”

The four drivers mentioned by Hamlin all had their reasons for not making the cut in the 2023 season. However, they are gearing up for a grand showdown this year.

Watch This Story: Kyle Petty’s take on Denny Hamlin’s infamous tagline 

A look at how the 2023 playoffs panned out for Hamlin’s select four drivers

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The playoff races in 2023 were marked by some unusual circumstances. Both Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman had to grapple with physical injuries. Elliott missed six races as he broke his leg in a snowboarding incident, and further missed another due to a suspension. Ultimately, he could not qualify for the playoffs on points. Bowman fractured a vertebra in a sprint car crash in April, and could not come back to the track for four weeks. So both Hendricks Motorsports drivers had health issues reducing the odds for a playoff victory.

Denny Hamlin’ teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, Ty Gibbs is a young and upcoming driver with tremendous talent behind the wheel. But 2023 was just not his year. The No. 54 Toyota driver missed the playoffs last season, finishing 18th in the standings. 

Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suarez ened behind Ty Gibbs, finishing 19th

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So all four drivers are coming back to give a tough fight to qualify for the 2024 playoffs. Who do you think will stay in the game, or fall off early?

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Written by:

Sumedha Mukherjee

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Sumedha Mukherjee is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports who is known for her in-depth track analysis as well as her lifestyle coverage of Cup drivers like Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick. Inspired by the Kiwi's journey so far, Sumedha has also written pieces on Shane Van Gisbergen, predicting how the Supercars Champion would do in the new and unfamiliar American setting. Pairing her research skills with her vast experience as a writer, Sumedha creates stories her readers can easily get lost in.
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Edited by:

Rohan Karnad

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