Denny Hamlin started the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season on the right foot with a victory in the Daytona 500. Now, he’s hoping to close the regular season with a victory as well in hopes of winning Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 (7:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN/MRN) at the Richmond International Raceway.
Despite a great start and three top three finishes in his first five races this season, Hamlin didn’t get another victory until race 22 at Watkins Glen. He was up-and-down and everywhere in between, as he wasn’t sold on his championship chances with victories on a plate track and a road course. Only one of those tracks are even in the Chase.
But, as we now close out the regular season, Hamlin is quietly making a name for himself and showing us that he indeed should be listed as a championship contender.
Hamlin, has seven straight top 10 finishes and eight in his last 10 races. We enter a track this weekend in which Hamlin has had a ton of success on as he he has two Richmond victories to his credit and 11 top 10’s in 20 career starts there.
Translation – he’s getting hot at the right time.
A top 10 would give Hamlin a finish inside there in every race since July. Mix that with a win in the first Chase race at Chicagoland a year ago to go along with four top fives in the first five Chase races, and you see why Hamlin and his No. 11 Toyota team may make some noise when it counts.
Right now, Hamlin has momentum on his side and he doesn’t want to ruin that. Momentum and confidence are two things that are hard to beat.