Denny Hamlin and his #11 Joe Gibbs Racing team have won three of the six races since NASCAR brought back the rear spoiler and did away with the wing on the back of the race car.
During that time, Hamlin has jumped 13 spots in the standings, from 19th to 6th. Hamlin has finished in the top 5 in four of those races, and has only finished outside the top 12 once during those six races; at Phoenix, where he was involved in an accident early on.
Hamlin’s performance as of late, which has come on the heels of his knee surgery which took place just 5 weeks ago, has many people believing that he is a legit title contender and a force to be reckoned with in 2010.
Denny Hamlin is not a force to be reckoned with; he is the force to be reckoned with.
Hamlin has outrun his closest competition, Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson, in all but three races since the new spoiler was put on. One of those was Phoenix where, as I mentioned, Hamlin was caught up in a wreck.
Another was Talladega, which is always a crap shoot. Harvick won there, while Hamlin finished not far behind in 4th. Johnson crashed out.
Over the last few races, Johnson has looked bad, while Harvick has been consistent.
But Hamlin has been stellar.
If the past few races aren’t enough to sell you on Hamlin, then take a look at the past few years. Hamlin has been good enough to win the championship, quite frankly, every year since he entered the sport back in 2006. Hamlin said that if he had the mindset over the past few years that he has right now, he would have won a lot more races, and maybe even some championships.
He has it together now.
Denny Hamlin has everything he needs to win a championship: A great driver, great cars, a good relationship with his veteran crew chief, Mike Ford, and most importantly, a great team. Hamlin’s pit stops have been outstanding this season. His feedback has been good. And best of all, his mind is in the right place.
When he’s on, Hamlin looks virtually unbeatable. Luck has bit him in the past, but he seems to have shaken that off now. He’s not thinking about what can go wrong, but rather what is going right. You heard his confidence in his voice Saturday night when he said over his radio as he was crossing the finish line, “All we do is win!”
These days, it seems like that’s true.
And if you need another reason to believe Hamlin is the force, he is in his fifth full season of racing in the Sprint Cup Series. Do you know who won his first championship in his fifth full season of competition? Jimmie Johnson.
But perhaps the most important thing to remember about Hamlin is that he is the only driver on the track who is not 100% healthy. He’s accomplishing all of this on a bum leg. With a bad limb, he’s kicking everyone’s tail, and making it look easy.
Imagine how he’ll be when he’s healthy.
Denny Hamlin isn’t a force to be reckoned with. He is the force.