“Felt Like I Was in a Video Game” – Denny Hamlin on His NASCAR Cup Series Debut

Published 09/08/2021, 12:59 PM EDT
CHARLOTTE, NC – MAY 16: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, stands in the garage area during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)


In the NASCAR Cup Series, Denny Hamlin made his debut all the way back in 2005. The current Joe Gibbs Racing driver had his first race in Kansas, where he finished in 32nd. Since then, he has only grown stronger and more experienced, though a title still eludes him.

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Reminiscing his first Cup race, he said, “I remember thinking that Cup racing was for me. I’ll never forget pulling out on pit lane, I felt like I was in a video game. These iconic paint scheme and drivers were all around me. I was starting up front.

“It stinks the finish was so bad because we had a cut tire under the green flag and never caught a caution and I was two laps down for having to pit for a cut tire.”

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How did Denny Hamlin perform in the race?

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According to the driver, he had a really good car under him, but his final position did not show it. It is worth mentioning that when he debuted, he joined Joe Gibbs Racing in the #11 car and raced there ever since. After seeing out the remainder of the 2005 season, his first full-time season was in 2006.

May 9, 2021; Darlington, South Carolina, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin (11) races during the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

He continued, “We were really fast that day, just never got to really show it. Just a fun experience. I knew when I got in the big horsepower car vs. being in the Xfinity Series that this car fits me better.”

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Sadly, he has not been able to win a Cup Series title so far. This year marks another chance for him to finally get the monkey off his back. However, his campaign was off to a bad start when he could not get a race win. Denny Hamlin only managed to get the ball rolling in the first round of the playoffs at Darlington.

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Dhruv George

11989 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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