Hamlin looks to tame Darlington once again

Hamlin goes for Cup win No. 5 at Darlington

Denny Hamlin

If you’re looking for someone who might be able to tame “the track too tough to tame,” look no further than Denny Hamlin.

Indeed, the 41-year-old driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing has a pretty enviable record at South Carolina’s Darlington Raceway, home of spring and fall NASCAR Cup races.

Over his past five races there dating back to 2020, the Florida native has been stellar, winning twice and finishing fifth twice and 13th once for an average finish of 5.0. And over his career going back to his rookie year of 2006, he has four wins, 11 top-fives, 14 top-10s and an average finish of 7.05. But throw out 19th and 29th place finishes in 2014 and 2019, respectively, and that average drops to just over 5.0. Or roughly a top-five finish in every Cup race he’s ever run there. Not too shabby.

He proved to be more than the track’s equal most recently in last September’s playoff race, the Cook Out Southern 500, when he led the final 69 laps on the 1.366 mile egg-shaped oval and just narrowly held off a hard-charging Kyle Larson to pick up his first win of the season in a messy affair filled with crashes and pit road mistakes.

He’ll be part of a field including Larson, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. in this year’s spring Cup race at Darlington, which airs Sunday, May 8, on FS1.

Player Profile

Full name: James Dennis Alan Hamlin

Birth date: Nov. 18, 1980

Birthplace: Tampa, Fla.

Height/weight: 6 feet/170 pounds

Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

Car: No. 11 Toyota Camry

Honors & achievements: Daytona 500 winner (2016, 2019, 2020); Cup All-Star Race winner (2015); Cup Series Rookie of the Year (2006); first rookie to qualify for the Cup playoffs (2006)

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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