Winning the Chevy Rock and Roll 400 with a dominating performance, Hamlin once again showed he means business this year.
Now it’s onto New Hampshire and the first of ten races to the Sprint Cup championship.
Hamlin started the year with a miserable 26th place finish at Daytona. He would rally though and put up some solid numbers the next few races. When the checkered flag flew at Martinsville, Hamlin was perched at number five in the points standings.
For the next six races, Hamlin would not budge below the No. 5 spot. A couple of times during that run he manned the No. 4 position.
A disastrous run at Dover would see Hamlin drop to No. 7. Then lightening struck again. A 38th place finish at Pocono sent Hamlin plummeting to the bubble boy position.
This might have been a turning point for some teams. It was certainly a turning point for the No.11 FedEx Toyota.
In the final 12 races leading into New Hampshire, Hamlin and his crew would post 10 top-10s, seven top fives, and two wins.
Eleven other drivers would love to be carrying those kinds of numbers and that kind of momentum into New Hampshire. It's the kind of numbers and momentum that champions are made of.
New Hampshire has been good to Hamlin. He has an average finish of 8.3, a win, and two top fives.
Sitting fourth in the points after the reseeding, Hamlin is right where he has been for most of the year. The difference is now he can see the top spot.
With his 400-point deficit reduced to just 20, Hamlin needs to pour the coals to that momentum train and drive it like he stole it.
Photo Credit: David L. Yeazell