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Denny Hamlin Received a Warning From Joe Gibbs’s Crew Moments Before Victory

Published 09/21/2023, 5:13 PM EDT

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In the heart of the Bristol Motor Speedway, under the blazing spotlights and roaring engines, Denny Hamlin made history once again. Lap 500 marked his 51st career victory, a win that crowned him the champion of the Bass Pro Shops Night Race and saw him score his third triumph of 2023. But the story of Hamlin‘s journey to this monumental victory goes beyond the checkered flag.

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The “Last Great Colosseum” witnessed the #11 Toyota Camry’s dominance, but it also bestowed upon Hamlin an unwanted record. The crowd roared as he crossed the finish line, but little did they know, a cryptic message had been delivered just moments before.

A cryptic warning moments before victory


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In a knockout performance that left fans on the edge of their seats, Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag for the third time in the 2023 season. As he stood in victory lane, Hamlin couldn’t contain his gratitude, especially for his stellar FedEx team.

“It’s our year. I just feel like we’ve got it all put together. We’ve got the speed [at] every single type of race track. Nothing to stop us at this point.” the 2022 Coca-Cola 600 winner declared after he crossed the checkered flag. But he had to zoom past a few nervy moments before making it to the victory lane.


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Zooming into lap 490, just ten laps before glory beckoned, Hamlin found himself with a nearly two-second lead over his closest rival, Kyle Larson. The anticipation was soon in the air, building up to its climax. His spotter, Chris Lambert, urgently warned, “White flag. One more [lap]. Don’t put yourself in a bad spot.” And those words drilled Hamlin’s name deeper into the annals of Bristol Motor Speedway’s history. 


WATCH THIS STORY: Denny Hamlin Blames Tony Stewart for Letting Down Slowest Kevin Harvick

But amidst the celebration, a question lingered: Could this be the year that Hamlin and his team finally conquer all obstacles and seize the championship?

Unique NASCAR record of Denny Hamlin 

Surprisingly, despite his illustrious career, Denny Hamlin holds a unique record in NASCAR Cup Series history – the most wins without a championship. The elusive title continues to elude him, even as he secured his third win of the 2023 season. What is it about the tournament that seems just out of reach for this racing legend?


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Joe Gibbs‘s star driver, had already secured his spot in the round of 12 on points. Still, the victory at Bristol Motor Speedway was the exclamation point on an incredible round of 16. However, it was impossible to ignore the irony: Hamlin’s fastest car had come up short at Darlington Raceway and Kansas Speedway. Was Lady Luck finally on his side, or was there something more to this tale?


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Hamlin has consistently maintained that his career isn’t defined solely by championship wins, given the ever-changing nature of the playoff format. Yet, there’s an undeniable desire within him to silence the doubters and conclude a season as the champion. With a second-place finish in 2020, the closest he’s come to the title, can he defy the odds and clinch the ultimate prize in his 18th full season?

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Written by:

Brahmi Dhaytadak


One take at a time

Brahmi Dhaytadak is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. She combines her love for F1, Tennis, and NASCAR into electrifying prose that sets the hearts of her readers racing. Whether it was the finesse of Charles Leclerc's maneuvers around Monaco or the artistry of Roger Federer's racket, everything inspired Brahmi to venture into the field of sports journalism.
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Edited by:

Nischal Kandpal