Denny Hamlin Tailgating

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Denny Hamlin Tailgating

Denny Hamlin

James Dennis Alan “Denny” Hamlin, Jr. (born November 18, 1980)[1][2] is an American NASCAR race car driver. He currently drives the No. 11 FedEx Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Sprint Cup Series.

Hamlin was born in Tampa, Florida, but lived in Chesterfield, Virginia for most of his childhood. He began racing go-karts at the age of 7. Afterward, he worked his way up to Late Models by 2004 and signed a development contract with Joe Gibbs Racing. After running briefly in the Craftsman Truck Series, Hamlin drove a full season in the Busch Series in 2005, while running a few Nextel Cup races. After having great race finishes, Hamlin was given a full-time ride with Joe Gibbs Racing.

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Denny Hamlin Tailgating


Hamlin began his racing career in 1988, at the age of 7 years old, racing go-karts. By 1997 at 15, he won the WKA manufacturers cup. At the age of 16, he was racing Ministocks. In his first stock car race, at Langley Speedway, Hamlin won the pole position, and won the race. He then progressed to the Grand Stock division in 1998, and moved on to Late Model Stock Cars in 2000. In 2002, he won ten Late Model races, and surpassed that in 2003 with 25 wins, and 30 poles, out of 36 races. In 2004, while competing full-time in Late Model Stock Cars, Hamlin was signed to a driver development contract with Joe Gibbs Racing.

NASCAR career[edit]

Denny Hamlin’s #11 FedEx Chevy being inspected at the November 12, 2006 Checker Auto 500


In 2004, Hamlin competed in five NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) races with EJP Racing, and had a tenth-place finish in his NASCAR debut at Indianapolis Raceway Park. He later ran his first career ARCA RE/MAX Series race at Talladega Superspeedway, finishing third in the #10 Pontiac owned by Andy Hillenburg. His final start of the year came atDarlington Raceway, when he made his Busch Series debut. He started twenty-seventh (rain-out) but finished eighth in the #18 Joe Gibbs Driven Performance Oil Chevrolet.

Hamlin ran the full season in 2005 after he replaced Mike Bliss in the #20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet in the Busch Series. He ended up finishing 5th in the final championship points standings as a rookie in that series, with 11 top 10’s and earnings of $1,064,110.00. Hamlin also ran his first Nextel Cup Series races in 2005, making his Cup debut at Kansas Speedway as driver of the #11 FedEx Chevrolet for the 2006 season, after Jason Leffler was released, and made seven starts in the Cup series in 2005. He finished the Cup season with three top 10 finishes in those seven starts and one pole at Phoenix International Raceway.

In 2006, Hamlin ran his first full season in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, and during the year he drove in both the Nextel Cup and Busch Series full-time. In Hamlin’s first restrictor plate race as a Nextel Cup driver, he beat all the previous year’s (2005 season) pole winners in the 70-lap 2006Budweiser Shootout. Hamlin became the first Rookie of the Year candidate to take home the Shootout victory. Hamlin achieved his first career Busch Series victory at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez (March 5). On June 11, Hamlin scored his first career Cup Series win at the Pocono 500, where he also won his second career pole. He achieved his second career win on July 23, in the Pennsylvania 500 also at Pocono Racewaybecoming only the 2nd rookie in Nextel Cup history to sweep both races at a track during the same season (Jimmie Johnson did so at Dover International Speedway in his rookie season in 2002), both from the pole position. In the Cup Series, Hamlin won the Raybestos Rookie of the Year award and finished third in the final Cup standings, scoring the highest points finish for a rookie in the modern era of NASCAR. Hamlin thus became the first ever rookie to make the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup.[3]


2008 Nationwide car

Hamlin practicing for the 2007 Ford 400 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Hamlin started the 2007 Cup season by finishing 28th in the Daytona 500. He won his third career cup race at the Lenox Industrial Tools 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway. Following that race, Hamlin finished 43rd in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway after being involved in a wreck early on in the event. This the first ever 43rd place finish in his career. Hamlin clinched a spot in the Chase for the Cup and was seeded sixth, 50 points behind the leader, but finished 12th overall in the final standings. In the Nationwide Series, Hamlin scored three victories including Darlington,Michigan, and Dover in the #20 Rockwell Automation Chevy.

In 2008, Hamlin had a near identical season as before, but moved up to eighth in points, and won early in the season at Martinsville Speedway. He led 381 out of 410 laps in the 2008 Crown Royal Presents the Dan Lowry 400, the most dominant effort of a driver since 2000. but cut a tire and finished 24th. He won three races in the Nationwide Series, driving both the #18 and #20 entries for Gibbs, as well as the #32 Dollar General/Haas Avocados car for Braun Racing.


He continued driving the #11 car in Sprint Cup in 2009, as well as sharing the #20 car for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Nationwide Series. Hamlin won his fifth Cup career race at Pocono Raceway on August 3, 2009. Hamlin boldly stated at the final restart “I’m going to win this race.” He followed through on the statement, moving from sixth to first and snapping a 50 race win-less streak. The win was Hamlin’s third at Pocono. It was especially emotional for the #11 team as Hamlin had lost his grandmother, Thelma Clark, that Friday.

Hamlin once again dominated the race at Richmond International Raceway and finally won at his home track. On October 25, 2009 Hamlin held offJimmie Johnson to win the TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Hamlin guaranteed that he would win this race after he came in second in the spring race.

Hamlin then went on to win the Ford 400 at the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, capping off his 2009 season 5th in the overall standings with 4 wins, 15 top 5’s and 20 top 10’s. Hamlin took the lead after starting the race in 38th position and he led a total of 70 laps to capture his 4th win of the 2009 season. After the 2009 season ended.


Hamlin in victory lane after winning the2010 Air Guard 400

Hamlin entered the 2010 season with great expectations. Many[who?] believed he would be a favorite to unseat Jimmie Johnson as Sprint Cup Champion.

On January 22, 2010, Hamlin tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while playing basketball. The decision was made to postpone his surgery until after the season.

Hamlin announced on March 27, 2010 to have surgery on his left knee the following Monday. The decision was made to prevent further damage to his knee.[4]

On March 29, 2010, Hamlin won the rain-postponed race at Martinsville Speedway in wild fashion. He beat his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Joey Logano, and Jeff Gordon to the finish line. Two days later, Hamlin had knee surgery to repair the torn ligament in his left knee.

On April 19, 2010, three weeks after his surgery, Hamlin worked his way from a 28th starting spot to restart 2nd with 13 laps to go at Texas Motor Speedway. Hamlin was later able to pass Jeff Burton on the outside and hold off Jimmie Johnson to get his 10th career win and his second win in three races.

Less than three weeks later on May 8, Hamlin visited victory lane for the third time in 2010 at Darlington Raceway. He swept the weekend by winning both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series events. He became the first driver to do so at Darlington since Mark Martin in 1993. He won the Nationwide Series Royal Purple 200 presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts driving the #20 for Joe Gibbs Racing on Friday night. He started on the pole and led the most laps to win the race. Hamlin started 8th in Saturday night’s Showtime Southern 500 and went on to lead 108 laps and take the checkered flag. A few races later, Hamlin dominated at The Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500 Presented By Target at Pocono Raceway, leading the most laps on his way to gathering his 12th career win, his 4th win of the season, and his fourth win at Pocono. A week later, Hamlin set a career-high fifth win of the season, when he won at Michigan International Speedway after starting 7th.

Later in the 2010 season, Hamlin finished 43rd in the Emory Healthcare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. This dropped him five spots in the Chase standings, placing him in 10th overall. Despite the drop in the standings, the top 10 drivers in the Chase were locked in after Atlanta, guaranteeing Hamlin a spot in the 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup. A driver error in the first Chase race on part of Carl Edwards caused Hamlin to spin with 85 to go. With cars ahead running out of fuel, Hamlin barely lost to Clint Bowyer. In the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway Denny drove a great race.[according to whom?] Dover has always been rough to Hamlin and though he did not lead a lap he went on to finish the race in 9th and retained the points lead by 35 points over Jimmie Johnson. The following week at Kansas Speedway, Hamlin encountered a rough driving car and finished 12th, a finish that was not good enough to keep the points lead, and fell into a deficit of 8 points to Jimmie Johnson, who finished 2nd. Then the following week at California he finished in the top 10 but still lost points to the 48 car of Jimmie Johnson. At Charlotte Motor Speedway, Hamlin led a lap (his first lead in the Chase) and finished in 4th, one spot behind points leader Jimmie Johnson, and lost another 5 points. But the triumph came at the .526-mile (paper clip-shaped) Martinsville Speedway; Hamlin came through with his series-leading seventh victory of the season. Hamlin won the pole and led the first 11 laps but encountered tire issues; he dropped back to 17th and finally worked himself up consistently to 5th until lap 471 with 29 laps to go, he took the lead from Kevin Harvick and held off a hard-charging Mark Martin to lead the final 29 laps and take his 3rd straight victory at Martinsville and his 4th at the historic track. He closed the lead to 6 points behind points leader and 5th place finisher Jimmie Johnson. Next up was the Amp Energy Juice 500 at the Talladega Superspeedway. Denny started 17th, but fell back and lost the draft. He went a lap down, but when a caution came out, he got the Lucky Dog and was back on the lead lap. He then worked his way up to a 9th-place finish, two spots behind points leader Jimmie Johnson. This put Denny another 8 points behind in the standings, totaling to 14. Hamlin won the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, and then led the standings by 33 over Johnson with two races to go. Next was Phoenix International speedway. Denny Hamlin started 14th but got up to the front right away and was leading for almost the whole race. With 14 laps to go, Hamlin had to pit because he was short on fuel. He finished 12th. After the race, Hamlin was furious and threw a water bottle in frustration.[citation needed] With one race to go, Hamlin led Johnson by 15 points and was 46 points ahead of Kevin Harvick. On the last race he lost the lead to Johnson and ended up 39 points behind him.


FedEx Paint scheme

In 2011 Hamlin almost won the Budweiser Shootout, but the victory was taken away from him by Kurt Busch because at the last second, Hamlin crossed the yellow line, on turn four to the finish line, in his attempt to pass Ryan Newman. Denny struggled in the first 8 races where his only top 10 was a seventh at Las Vegas. However, when the series got to Richmond, Denny turned on the heat by winning both his charity event and the Nationwide race but would finish 2nd to teammate Kyle Busch. He would go on to finish outside of the top 10 once at dover finishing in the top 20 and rebounded with finishes of 10th and 3rd at Charlotte and Kansas respectively. After his 3rd place finish at Kansas, he would climb to 11th in points – 1 point out of the coveted 10th as the series goes to his favorite track, Pocono, where he would have tied himself for the most all-time wins at the track, if he had placed first. After a disappointing 19th place finish, he moved on to Michigan, a track at which he posted a 1st and 2nd place finish in 2010. Before the first practice at Michigan, oil pans unapproved by NASCAR were confiscated from the three JGR teams, including Hamlin. After showing signs of sheer mediocrity during each practice and qualifying, Hamlin qualified 10th in the field. He showed signs of improvement at the very start of the race, Hamlin quickly slid back in the field and was in the 10th to 15th place range until beginning to improve with about 70 laps to go, deeming the adjustment on his loose race car “a magic adjustment” On lap 158, with 42 laps to go, a penalty caused by an accident between Juan Pablo Montoya and Andy Lally allowed Hamlin to move to the front of the field by short pitting. Another caution on lap 192 moved the 11 car up to the first position. After a restart, Hamlin surged to ahead of the group, with Matt Kenseth right behind him in the closing three laps. After desperately trying to move past Hamlin, Kenseth made a final attempt coming out of turn four on the final lap, causing him to almost hit the wall because of a loose racecar. This win vaulted Hamlin from 12th in the standings, where he would have been replaced in the chase by Jeff Gordon if each stayed in their current position, to 9th, where he is guaranteed a spot in the chase. At the end of the season Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Mike Ford would not return as Hamlin’s crew chief in 2012.[5]


Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Darian Grubb will be Mike Ford’s replacement as Hamlin’s crew chief for the 2012 season. Grubb previously served as crew chief for Tony Stewart, where he helped Stewart to his third Sprint Cup title in 2011.

Hamlin scored his first win of the year in the second event on the schedule, at Phoenix International Raceway.[6] On April 22, Hamlin out-dueled Martin Truex, Jr. to score his second win in the eighth race of the year, at Kansas Speedway. At the Crown Royal Curtiss Shaver 400 at the Brickyard, Hamlin scored his eleventh pole. He won his third race of the year at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 26 in the Irwin Tools Night Race. A week later, he became the first driver of the year to have back-to-back wins, winning the AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, again out-dueling Martin Truex, Jr. Two weeks later, he dominated and won the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after starting 32nd, deep in the field. This was Joe Gibbs Racing‘s 100th win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.


Front/side view of Hamlin’s car

Hamlin started the season on a low note, crashing his cars in both the Sprint Unlimited and the Budweiser Duel. The crash in the Duel put him into a backup car for the Daytona 500. Hamlin started 35th, led 33 laps, and finished 14th. He improved the following week, with a third place finish at Phoenix, then a 15th place finish at Las Vegas. He led the most laps at Bristol, but ran out of gas. Controversy unfolded after Hamlin spun his ex-teammate Joey Logano battling for position. This resulted in Hamlin and Logano exchanging words in the garage after the race.

At Fontana, Hamlin won his first pole for 2013. On the final restart Hamlin restarted in 12th place and with 12 laps left Hamlin reached third place before passing Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch for the top 2 spots with Joey Logano. His rivalry with Logano continued as the two fought side-by-side for the win in the last two laps. Heading into turn 3 on the white flag lap, neither driver wanted to lift and bumped each other. Logano attempted to block Hamlin and was sent up into the outside wall, while Hamlin came off the banking and smashed head-on into an inside retaining wall. Hamlin’s teammate Kyle Busch passed them to win the race.

Although Hamlin climbed out of the car right after the crash, he immediately collapsed and lied on the track. He was airlifted to the hospital as a precaution. When lying in the hospital Hamlin interpreted Logano’s post race words about their battle as Logano saying that he held a grudge against Hamlin and retaliated against Hamlin. It was announced the next day that Hamlin had suffered a massive L1 Compression fracture, or a collapsed vertebra.[7] Dr. Petty, Hamlin’s JGR doctor reported on Tuesday that Hamlin’s back would heal in six weeks and Hamlin would need time off. Two of Michael Waltrip Racing‘s drivers stepped in to replace Hamlin, with Mark Martin filling in at Martinsville and Brian Vickers filling in for four races. He made his return at Talladega in the Aaron’s 499, and told reporters that since he was not ready to run a full race, he would switch with Brian Vickers during the first caution and pit stop by a special exit on the roof attached to the car.

Like planned, during a caution, Hamlin switched out with Vickers on lap 23. Under NASCAR rules, since Hamlin started the race, he would receive credit for any results.[8] Vickers got caught up in a 14 car wreck on lap 43, relegating the car to a 34th place finish.

At Darlington, Hamlin drove his first full race since his injury. He qualified sixth. In the waning laps, he held off Jeff Gordon to finish second to teammate Matt Kenseth.

At Charlotte, for the Coca-Cola 600, Hamlin clinched a pole position with a record speed of 195.624 miles per hour (314.826 km/h), breaking the previous speed of 193.708 miles per hour (311.743 km/h) set by Greg Biffle.[9] During the race, Hamlin led six laps and finished in the fourth position.

At Dover, Hamlin started on the pole for the second week in a row. He led 41 laps before he cut a tire on lap 378 and hit the wall, causing him to finish 34th.

At Pocono Hamlin started in 17th and finished in 8th place. He had shown some recovery.

At Michigan, Sonoma and Kentucky, Hamlin didn’t fare well. Finishing in 30th, 23rd and 35th place. He only got up to 25th in the points standings and 150 points behind 10th place. Without any wins, his chances of making a Wildcard bid for the Chase were nixed.

At Daytona, Hamlin started 24th and led 20 laps, before he got into a wreck off of turn 4 with Juan Pablo Montoya and Martin Truex, Jr.. Hamlin stayed on the track, a lap down, and got the free pass with the next caution. However, on lap 148, Hamlin hit the tri-oval wall head on and then his car was struck by A.J. Allmendinger and went airborne.[10]

He wrecked at Pocono on Lap 15 after losing control of his car in the third turn and solidified his chances of missing the Chase for the first time in his career (He ran 7 races in 2005 but his first appearance was at a Chase Race). At Michigan, he was officially eliminated rom the chase even if he won the next four races because he was too far back in the points.