Denny Hamlin Carries Momentum Into Richmond Following Pocono Win

Denny Hamlin Carries Momentum Into Richmond Following Pocono Win

by July 29, 2023 0 comments

By: Trish McCormack

RICHMOND, Va. – Denny Hamlin looks to continue last week’s winning momentum with a strong performance in Sunday’s Cook Out 400 at Richmond Raceway.  

Hamlin kicked off the weekend by clocking the third fastest lap in the final round of Saturday’s qualifying session. On Sunday, he will line up behind pole-sitter Tyler Reddick who drives the No. 45 for Hamlin’s race team 23XI Racing, with his No. 23 car driven by Bubba Wallace starting behind him in fifth. 

Hamlin, who is a Virginia native, grew up in nearby Chesterfield, VA. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver considers Richmond Raceway his home track which also happens to be his second best track in the series. The 3/4th-mile D-shaped track plays host to two races a year and has been good to Hamlin. Over the past 33 series starts, Hamlin has accumulated an average finish of eighth. Home tracks lead to an increase of family, friends, and fans, and Hamlin looks to capitalize at Richmond in hopes of capturing back-to-back wins.

Hamlin’s win at Pocono Raceway last weekend came after he took the lead from Kyle Larson with seven laps remaining. Hamlin’s pass for the lead at Pocono came with controversy after he pushed Larson up the track, which resulted in Larson brushing the wall. 

“I made a split-second decision to try to clear him instantly, and you can see from my on-board that I don’t see him,” Hamlin said. “I see him go up the track, and I don’t know where he’s at when I start to throttle up and I’m saying ‘alright, I’m going to clear him.’ But when I didn’t, I knew we were going to be in a bad spot.” 

Moving forward, Hamlin has no intention of changing how he races other drivers explaining why he has adapted a more aggressive style of racing.

“Honestly, I think it was after the (Ross) Chastain thing for sure,” Hamlin said. “Certainly, I was very vocal that I need to do something, I need to do something. At the time, the scales were like three to nothing. I was very frustrated. My team was very frustrated at me for not doing anything. The mindset has just changed. You have to put it out there that you are going to be aggressive.”

Hamlin’s change in mindset this season has proven to be productive as it has led him to two wins, six top-5 and 10 top-10 finishes versus last year where he earned two wins, three top-5 and five top-10’s at this point in the season. 

Hamlin has four wins and has led 2,206 laps at Richmond, so he certainly know how to get around the track. Hamlin, alongside business partner Michael Jordan unloaded two fast Toyota’s for Sunday’s race, so look for the Toyotas to be strong in Sunday’s race. 

Currently, Hamlin trails teammate and points leader, Martin Ttruex Jr. by 55 points in the standings. Both 23XI cars are in the top-16 in points with Reddick winning earlier in the season to lock the No.45 into the NASCAR Playoffs. The organization continues to make strides towards being consistently competitive as both drivers as well as their owner look to find their way to victory lane Sunday.

The Cook Out 400 at Richmond Raceway will broadcast live on USA at 3 p.m. ET Sunday.

Photo Credit: Trish McCormack Photography

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