It’s Day 28 of my 35-Day venture around the owner points for NASCAR and today we visit the third team in the Joe Gibbs Racing stable in three days.
Denny Hamlin, the Virginia native, enters his fourth full season of competition at the Sprint Cup level.
After Tony Stewart bolted to own and drive for his own team, Hamlin became No. 2 in the rankings. Sure, he’s been there two years longer than Kyle Busch, but let’s be honest, Busch is the veteran of the group.
Hamlin is no pushover, however. He has proven in his short career that he can compete in NASCAR’s top series, yet he has lacked the sensational run he had in his rookie season, where he finished third in the points.
Last year was a step up, as he finished eighth in points, up from 12th in 2007. He also has made the Chase in all three years of competition.
This season could be a breakout one for Hamlin who is looking to prove to everyone he has what it takes to compete at the top level all season.
Here is a look at today’s team:
Today’s Spotlight: No. 11
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
Driver: Denny Hamlin
Driver 2008 Stats: Hamlin won more than $5.5 million in 2008 with one win, 12 top-fives and 19 top-10 finishes. He finished eighth in the points with a 14th place average finish.
News: Another team with no news during the off-season.
My Prediction for 2009: Hamlin will make the Chase, but Gibbs’ teams have struggled to maintain the consistency once in the 10-race playoff. I predict Hamlin will finish in the same neighborhood he did this year. I’m going with somewhere between fifth and ninth.
Will this team remain in top 35?: No doubt about it.
Up Next: No. 24 Jeff Gordon
This story also appears on my blog: Sports 101
Reminder: Only 8 days until the Budweiser Shootout!
(Editor's Note: I have done one a day for the past 28 days, but will be out of town over the weekend, so I'll probably post tomorrow's later today, and Sunday's late Sunday night.)