Oct 20, 2022
EP 165 - Denny Hamlin
Welcome to the Pretty Intense Podcast. We have a treat today. Race car driver and NASCAR team owner, and my old friend, Denny Hamlin. Many of you would like to know why he crashed me so much. Denny is a fantastic driver. He has 48 wins. He started in the Cup Series in 2005. He has yet to get that elusive Championship win, but every year he is there, and one of the best drivers ever. We talked about the sport. We talked about relationships. And we talk about life and the kind of things that he wants to do. We have such a laugh talking about the old times. Fun on and off the track. The pressures of racing fame, the parties, the challenges. We hope you enjoy this episode as much as we did.
Denny Hamlin enters his 17th full season driving the #11 FedEx Toyota in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2022 with Joe Gibbs Racing and fourth-year crew chief Chris Gabehart. Hamlin has won 46 races in 578 career starts at stock-car racing’s highest level since bursting onto the scene with two victories and “Rookie of the Year” honors in 2006. The 41-year-old Chesterfield, Va., native has scored 198 top-five and 305 top-10 finishes and contended in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in 15 of 16 years behind the wheel of the #11 car. The FedEx Racing driver enjoyed a record-setting year in 2021, earning a career-high 25 top-10 finishes and leading a career-best 1,502 laps. He also tied his career high for top-five finishes with 19. Hamlin completed all but four of the season’s 9,200 laps on the way to his first full season with no DNFs (Did Not Finish). He notched two wins on the way to making his third straight trip to the Championship 4 race, where he finished third in the standings. Hamlin kicked off the 2020 season with a Daytona 500 win, becoming only the fifth driver in NASCAR history to claim three victories in the “Great American Race.” He went on to score a total of seven wins on the season, advancing to the Championship 4 for the second consecutive year. He finished the year ranked fourth in the standings, compiling 18 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes. And, in an unusual season featuring a 10-week shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hamlin also excelled in an iRacing season from his at-home racing simulator, scoring two televised wins against his Cup Series competitors at virtual racetracks. 2019 was a statement season for Hamlin and rookie crew chief Gabehart. After registering no wins in 2018, the veteran driver rebounded in forceful fashion to score six wins on the year, including his second Daytona 500 victory. Hamlin’s successful 2019 season also included 19 top-five and 24 top-10 finishes – both career season-highs – and three Busch Pole Awards. He capped off the year with a Championship 4 berth in the season-finale race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he drove to a fourth-place finish in the point standings. Hamlin boasts an impressive 33 career poles, the second-highest record among active Cup Series drivers. Hamlin collected 10 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes during the 2018 season that earned him an 11th-place finish in the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series standings. He added four Coors Light Pole Awards to his résumé, including a first-place starting spot for the Series’ finale race at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the second-consecutive year. Hamlin jumpstarted his 2017 campaign by collecting his third career Duel victory (2008, 2014) during Daytona “Speedweeks,” eventually scoring two more regular season wins after dominating performances at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Darlington Raceway. He also added two Coors Light Pole Awards to his season accomplishments – one at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the Playoffs and one during the season-finale race weekend at Homestead-Miami. Overall, Hamlin tied career-bests with 15 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes en route to finishing sixth in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series standings. His 2016 season began triumphantly when he claimed the prestigious Daytona 500 win – his first-ever Daytona victory – in a historic finish, edging out Martin Truex Jr. by .01 seconds. Hamlin went on to score two more wins.