NASCAR Insider Fuels Denny Hamlin’s Playoff Misery as Scary Kansas Stats Come to Light

Published 09/10/2023, 3:30 PM EDT

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There are drivers who win multiple championships and others who never win a single accolade in their careers. And then there is Denny Hamlin. 18 years in the top tier displaying absolute dominance with a staggering 50 Cup Series wins, and yet, not a single championship. The curious case of Denny Hamlin is almost incomprehensible. Why? Despite seeming the larger and quicker predator on a lot of occasions, he has always missed his prey.

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Going into the playoffs in the current 2023 season, the Joe Gibbs Racing star was fired up to not miss his shot this year. But misfortune struck again and the opener at Darlington slipped from his fingers. But are the curtains closed yet? Or will he bounce back in Kansas on Sunday? Shocking revelations from Fox Sports reporter Bob Pockrass cast a big shadow on the latter question.

The Kansas Speedway doesn’t welcome Denny Hamlin with open arms

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Denny Hamlin’s playoff eliminations over the years have been riddled with bad luck. Perhaps the closest that he has come to winning the championship was in 2010 when he lost the lead to Jimmie Johnson in the season finale. In 2014, 2019, and 2020, he made it to the final 4 before dropping down the ladder.

Right now, he is in the middle of another great opportunity. Despite the debacle at Darlington, all hopes rested on the fact that he would make a massive comeback at Kansas and march towards the Phoenix Raceway to claim what’s rightfully his. But the stats that have come to light after the qualifying lap at the Kansas Speedway don’t warrant those scenes.

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Speculating the final results of the Hollywood Casino 400, reporter Bob Pockrass picked his favorites for the top-5 positions. He’d tweeted on his X handle, “My pick for Kansas today: Larson … top-5: Larson Truex Byron Bell Chastain … longshot: Bowman.”

Surprisingly, his list missed the name of Hamlin. When a follower asked about the driver’s chances specifically, he disclosed his opinion.

The qualifying lap in the Kansas Speedway saw Denny Hamlin fall to P14. The position that he has secured on the grid may not brighten his chances for success, as voiced by Bob. But how much do numbers matter for a driver who has commanded the race tracks of America for nearly 2 decades?

Watch Story: Denny Hamlin Lashes Out at Michael Jordan’s Driver for Ruining His Darlington Performance

Denny Hamlin’s chances of defying the odds to turn up a winner at Kansas

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The Kansas Speedway’s experience in NASCAR’s top tier isn’t much older than Denny Hamlin’s. The driver had made his Cup Series debut on the track but it wasn’t until seven years later, in 2012, did he first conquered it. Turning back the pages of history, one certainty can be reached. Denny’s starting position on the Kansas grid does not mean that his chances are lost.

The most recent event to back that up would be his performance in this exact race last year. Starting from P25, he’d gone on to finish at P2. And earlier this year, he’d started from P8 and finished at P1. Speaking to the media pre-race, Denny had affirmed this notion by saying,

“Typically all the other Kansas races we’ve been very middle of the road (In qualifying) and I’ve almost you know kind of panicked overnight like man we’re not as good as what we should be and then in the race they’ve dropped the green and we just go to the front.”

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Nevertheless, the stakes that are piled up for the 42-year-old are higher now than ever. With the sand in the hourglass of time running out quickly, the pressure on Denny to win the championship this year is high. Holding an average finish rate of 5.7 since February 2020, Denny has the best shot at finding the victory lane in Kansas amongst all his peers. In just a few hours, we will witness whether Michael Jordan’s 23XI Racing co-owner justifies this number and beats the makeshift odds that go against him.

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Written by:

Gowtham Ramalingam

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Gowtham Ramalingam is a NASCAR writer at EssentiallySports. His love for motorsports stems from his fascination with Formula 1. Possessing an obsession for anything with an engine, the roads eventually led him to the raw grounds of NASCAR and he has been an avid fan of the sport ever since.
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Edited by:

Nischal Kandpal

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