The “Daytona Sweep” is a rarity. In fact, the last time its happened was when Jimmie Johnson won both the Daytona 500 and Coke Zero 400 in the same season in 2013. Prior to that though?
Denny Hamlin is up for the challenge in Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 (7:30 p.m. ET/NBC/MRN) as he honestly has the best shot at doing so in recent years. He’s searching to become just the second driver to win both points paying NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Daytona in the same season in the last 33 years.
For some reason, Hamlin has had a very strong race car at the Daytona International Speedway over the last two years, as that’s why he’s a legitimate favorite under the lights this weekend. In what is typically pot luck as far as finishing results go at plate tracks, Hamlin has come away with five straight top sixes in points paying races at Daytona.
Yes, he has five straight top sixes since the 2014 Daytona 500.
Hamlin won back in February, as prior to that, he finished third in the ‘400 last year. That was off of a fourth place finish in the 2015 Daytona 500. He then finished second and sixth respectively in the two races in 2014.
That’s why he’s going to be a strong contender this weekend as the stats don’t lie.
But, prior to this strong surge at Daytona was a bunch of struggling finishes. He only had two top 10’s and three total top 15’s in 16 starts from 2006-2013.
That’s a far cry from five straight top sixes now.
So, which Hamlin is it going to be this weekend?
I sense the recent one.
He’s coming off of a second place finish last week in Sonoma and won the last time we were in Daytona. Hamlin has some strong momentum.