The beginning of 2013 looked to be a promising year for Denny Hamlin, but after consistent top-15 finishes at the first four races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver ran into a wall, literally.
Back in March, Hamlin and Penske Racing driver Joey Logano, had a scuffle after the race at Bristol Motor Speedway. The two found themselves battling again on the final lap of the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. Both the No.22 Penske Ford and the No.11 Fed Ex Toyota got loose in turn 4. Hamlin smacked into the left side wall. Unfortunately, this was a wall with no safer barrier. As a result, he suffered back injuries and would miss the next four races.
Hamlin would return to start the race at Talladega Superspeedway. A backup driver would later finish it out. At the beginning of summer, it looked as though the 2012 Chase qualifier still had a shot at the 2013 version. However, he could not escape two engine failures and four crashes during the regular season. As a non-Chase driver, he suffered two more engine failures at two Chase races, Chicago and Talladega (October).
Once he came back from his back injury, some of Hamlin’s best finishes were 2nd at Darlington (first full race he completed since his injury), 4th and 9th at both Charlotte races (May, October), 8th at Pocono (June) and 7th at both Martinsville and Texas Chase races. The No.11 Joe Gibbs Racing team finally turned it around at the final race of the year with a much-needed win in Homestead. The victory should be a confidence booster going into the 2014 season, which starts in February.
Hamlin’s total stats on the 2013 NASCAR season consist of four top 5′s and eight top 10′s, with only one win. He completed 8,522 of 9046 laps and led 363 of them. Although he failed to finish 8 races, Hamlin still scored five poles.
Hamlin’s 2013 stats show that he was successful on both the 1.5 mile and short tracks. After a season that was literally a pain for this team, 2014 looks to be a rebuilding year for them.