Found April 24, 2012 on
Denny Hamlin sure has ridden the roller coaster the last few years. Think back to 2010 when he won eight races and was vying for the championship right up to and including the last race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
He ended up finishing second to Jimmie Johnson that season.
In 2011, it was literally the completely other end of the spectrum for he and his Joe Gibbs Racing team. Yes, they won the June Michigan race, but they limped into the Chase for the Sprint Cup last year and much like their season, they really weren't a factor. At the end of the season the team made wholesale changes, including in the crew chief position.
Now, 2012 is really starting to look like 2010. We've had eight NASCAR Sprint Cup races this year. Denny has now won two races and a pole position plus has three top fives and four top 10s so far. On top of that, he finds himself fifth in the points, only 23 back of leader Greg Biffle.
Even when races this year don't go their way - and the race at Auto Club Speedway a month ago comes to mind - Denny still has a bounce in his step that you never saw at all in 2011. His confidence is high and he really does remind me of the Denny Hamlin we watched in 2010.
So now Denny is coming off a win and is carrying all that momentum into his home track - Richmond. He runs well there. He's won there. He loves the place. So he's one in my book that I believe will be a factor again this weekend.
Obviously the changes in the offseason seem to be paying off. Denny and former crew chief Mike Ford won a lot of races together. They even made the Chase every single season. You see it in almost all driver/crew chief combinations - little by little you start drifting apart. I think those two started to struggle with each other during those last couple of races in the 2010 Chase.
I simply don't think they were ever able to get back together and the performance in 2011 seemed to really prove that out. They knew it. Team owner Joe Gibbs and his son and team president J.D. Gibbs knew it. So a change was made.
Darrell Waltrip, Mike Joy and myself met with Greg Biffle last week at Kansas Speedway. He said he went through the exact same experience. Roush Fenway Racing made a change halfway through the 2011 season and just look at the effect it has had on Greg and the team. Greg said the organization changed all but three members of that No. 16 team. He told us now they all believe in him and he believes in all of them.
I say this all the time - a driver/crew chief relationship is hard to keep going. It's really no different than a husband and wife who have been married for a number of years. You have to work very hard at it to keep your relationship healthy. That to me is why it is so phenomenal that Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus are still together and actually working on their 11th year together.
The other irony in all this is now Denny has won two races with Tony Stewart's ex-crew chief, which by the way is the exact same amount Tony has won this year with his new crew chief. I am not sure if any of that is on the minds of Denny, Darian, Tony and crew chief Steve Addington, but to be honest, I do get a sense the others in the No. 14 Stewart team have it on their mind.
What's going to be fun to watch is if the points tighten up to the point where both cars are parked next to each other in the garage area in the future. That should be interesting to watch those conversations between former this and former that take place.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
KANSAS CITY, Kan. Denny Hamlin got the confetti shower. Mother Nature got the last laugh.
"Well, (it was the) conditions," sighed Brian Pattie, crew chief for local favorite Clint Bowyer, one of 11 casualties Sunday at the STP 400. "I don't think they anticipated 60 degrees and cloudy."
We were supposed to see Saturday's sequel at Kansas Speedway: 68...
Denny Hamlin's on such a winning roll this NASCAR season, even his biscuits turned out great.
Hamlin is coming off a victory last week at Kansas Speedway, his second Sprint Cup win of the season. Now, Hamlin is heading into his home track at Richmond where the Joe Gibbs Racing star usually gets his season kicked into full gear. Hamlin says the way he's going, ''nothing...
Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag Sunday at Kansas in a race that saw engine problems plague a number of drivers and nearly all car companies.
Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle rounded out the top five.
Engine failures cost several drivers Sunday, including polesitter AJ Allmendinger, Clint Bowyer, Bobby Labonte, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch and Brian...
It was Denny Hamlin's day in the sun.
Taking advantage of changing conditions Sunday at Kansas Speedway, Denny Hamlin held off Martin Truex Jr. over the final 30 laps to win the STP 400, his second victory of the season, his first at the 1.5-mile track and the 19th of his career.
The victory was the 199th for cars bearing the No. 11, breaking a tie for the all-time lead...
Denny Hamlin is off to the best start of his Sprint Cup career...
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Denny Hamlin held off hard-charging Martin Truex Jr. down the stretch on Sunday to win at Kansas Speedway for the first time. Truex had dominated most of the race, but Hamlin had gone to the front when his car hooked up under the first sunshine of the afternoon. Truex mounted a comeback, diving low with a couple laps left, but he couldn't make the move stick...
Martin Truex Jr. dominated the STP 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, but as the handling went away on his No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, another Toyota, the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing entry of Denny Hamlin, was able to get by for the lead with 31 laps remaining in the 267-lap race to drive on to the win.
“I’d love to see one of his (Michael Waltrip’s...
No sooner had Denny Hamlin pulled off the track and into Victory Lane at Kansas Speedway on Sunday than did a tank and an earth mover from the National Guard rumble back onto the asphalt.
It was the ceremonial start to a repaving and reconfiguring of the 1.5-mile oval, where large chunks of pavement had come loose over the weekend. One piece, about 5 inches long and a couple inches...
A Toyota powered its way into Victory Lane at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, but it's not the Camry some expected.
Martin Truex Jr. promised the crew if he could get to the front and in clean air, he "would be gone." And he was for 173 laps, the most NASCAR Sprint Cup circuits on which Truex has remained at the point since he won at Dover International Speedway in June...
Denny Hamlin - WINNER
#11 FedEx Freight Toyota
· Two wins, six top fives, eight top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 7.6
· Series-best Average Running Position of 6.1
· Series-best Driver Rating of 117.6
· Series-high 506 Fastest Laps Run
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed...
Denny Hamlin had to hold off a hard-charging Martin Truex Jr. on Sunday to win his second race of the season in the No. 11 FedEx Toyota.
It was the first win for Hamlin at 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway, as the Joe Gibbs Racing driver held off Truex by 0.700 seconds at the finish line as Truex's No. 56 NAPA Toyota became extremely loose at the end after leading a race-high 173 laps...
It has been a long time since so many drivers had engine troubles at a race, but Sunday's 400 miles at Kansas Speedway put the metal to the test. A number of drivers lost cylinders and struggled to get to the finish, while Toyota drivers Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin sped away in the lead.
As the laps ticked by it appeared Hamlin and Truex would duke it out for the trophy...
How disappointed was Jimmie Johnson not to secure the 200th NASCAR Sprint Cup victory for team owner Rick Hendrick?
In fact, his disappointment didn't move the needle at all -- because Johnson didn't think he had a race-winning car in Sunday's STP 400 at Kansas Speedway.
True, the five-time championÂ finished third behind Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr., and...
A second consecutive race at an intermediate track featuring long green flag runs once again separated the contenders from the pretenders. There were no lucky finishes on the Midwest plains on Sunday at Kansas Speedway, where drivers had to earn every spot in the finishing order. This week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the short track at Richmond, where grit and grind determine...
Rowdy looks to repeat his win last springat Richmond.Kyle Busch has been the man at Richmond the past three spring races, winning each of the Sprint Cup events at the Virginia short track. The 26-year-old has an average finishing position of 5.0 at Richmond, tops among all active drivers, including JGR teammate Denny Hamlin, whose average finish there is 7.6. Busch has completed...