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Denny Hamlin Issues Notice for His Aggressive Driving at Daytona as He Chases Prestigious Company

Published 02/19/2024, 11:48 AM EST

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USA Today via Reuters

The roar of the engines is a siren song, calling Denny Hamlin back to the hallowed asphalt of the Daytona International Speedway. Three times, the JGR #11 Toyota has roared across the finish line first, etching his name into the NASCAR history books. But this year, with the stakes higher and the competition hungrier than ever, he’s not just chasing his 52nd checkered flag. He’s chasing legends, the iconic Cale Yarborough to be precise, aiming to join the exclusive club of four-time Daytona 500 champions.

Born in Florida and raised in Virginia, Hamlin grew up surrounded by the very heartbeat of NASCAR, making his mark as a driver known for his calculated, aggressive demeanor. While often regarded as a ‘provocateur,’ Hamlin is more than meets the eye — a podcast host, a team owner, a future NASCAR Hall of Famer, and a true entertainer, but most importantly an extremely consistent racer. Although there have been differing opinions from fans on a career that has spanned more than two decades, the 43-year-old veteran is still a determined competitor with his sights firmly set on winning his first Bill France Cup, yet again.

Denny Hamlin Sets Sights on the Daytona 500 Record Books

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In recent discussions with SiriusXM’s NASCAR radio, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver and winner of the 2024 Clash at The Coliseum talked about his aspirations of being a part of a very exclusive group of 4-time Daytona winners, stating, “I mean I think that when you look at how many Richard’s(Petty) got, the racing is different now so it will be impossible for anyone to reach where Richard’s at, but one more would put me in that good category with Cale (Yarborough) which I think is really important so we’ll see how it goes.”

In the pursuit of victory, Hamlin embraces aggression over patience as his preferred strategy for The Great American Race. He asserted, “I think aggression wins more than patience.” He emphasizes the need for a different approach in the modern era of superspeedway racing, continuing, You just got to treat this race a little bit differently in the sense of that why you want to be patient… In next-gen racing on superspeedways, you can’t give up track position like you used to so you have to be aggressive and that’s going to put you in danger most times but someone makes it through. You just got to be the one that makes it through.”

With the Next Gen cars, he believes track position is paramount, and aggressive moves are necessary, even if it means putting stakes in danger.

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In a recent interview with Mark Long of AP, Hamlin asserted his stance further, stating, “It’s those who are the most selfish, that make moves for themselves, are those who win the race.” Unapologetically, Hamlin positions himself as a contender who prioritizes a record-breaking personal triumph over ‘patient’ team collaboration, a philosophy he believes is essential for success at the 2.5 mil superspeedway.

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This year, the questions around Hamlin’s approach feel even more potent, being tied with NASCAR legends like Dale Jarrett, Jeff Gordon, and Bobby Allison for three 500 wins each. However, chasing an even more exclusive record, joining only one other name in the legendary three-time Cup champion Cale Yarborough, makes the 2024 edition of the Daytona 500 all the more speculative for Denny Hamlin.

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Last year, a 17th-place finish left him and his fans wanting more. And while he claimed victory in the exhibition Clash two weeks ago, it wasn’t on a superspeedway. But one thing’s undeniable – Hamlin is a master of this type of track. He ranks fifth all-time in laps led at the Daytona 500 with a staggering 480 circuits under his belt. He knows the rhythm of the pack, the nuances of drafting, and the delicate dance between aggression and control. And he just set a record for the NextGen car during practice, clocking in at a scorching 197.477 mph, leaving a lot of anticipation ahead of his 18th start at Daytona 500.

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Will Hamlin’s audacious strategy propel him to victory lane, solidifying his place among the sport’s immortals? Or will his aggressiveness backfire, leaving him and his ‘fans’ in a cloud of disappointment?

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Written by:

Amman Augustin

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Amman Augustin is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. With his coverage majorly focusing on the lavish off-track lives of drivers, Amman often brings the lesser-known side of Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick to their fans. Another aspect of NASCAR where he flourishes is covering rivalries between competitors.
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Edited by:

Rohan Karnad