NASCAR: Denny Hamlin breaks unwanted record at Bristol

Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR playoffs (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR playoffs (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) /

Following his win at Bristol Motor Speedway, Denny Hamlin now has the most wins in NASCAR Cup Series history without a championship.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin earned his third win of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season, his highest single-season win total since 2020, in Saturday night’s round of 16 finale at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Hamlin had already been locked into the round of 12 on points, but he sealed the deal at the “Last Great Colosseum” after coming up short at Darlington Raceway and Kansas Speedway, despite having the fastest car in both events.

As a result of his most recent victory, the driver of the No. 11 Toyota now owns an unwanted record.

Denny Hamlin has more wins than any non-champion in NASCAR Cup Series history.

Saturday’s victory was Hamlin’s 51st, moving him ahead of Junior Johnson on the all-time wins list. Johnson, of course, never ran a full season, only running more than half the schedule in seven of his 14 seasons in the sport to secure his 50 wins.

Among full-time drivers, Hamlin has held this unwanted record since 2020, when he passed Mark Martin (40 wins) on the all-time list.

Hamlin also passed Ned Jarrett on the wins list on Saturday night, giving him sole possession of 13th all-time. Next up on the list is Lee Petty, who found victory lane 54 times.

Hamlin has long said that he isn’t going to judge the success of his career based on whether or not he wins a championship, given the nature of the playoff format. And let’s face it; as unwanted as this record may be, it’s a heck of a lot better to have 51 wins and no title than 11 wins and no title.

But given his current form, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that he wants nothing more than to end this discussion once and for all and finally finish a season on top.

Hamlin’s best finish in the championship standings is second, which he recorded in 2020 when Jimmie Johnson won the fifth of his record-tying seven titles. Hamlin is now in his 18th full season of Cup Series competition and has been to the Championship 4 in four of the nine seasons of the modern playoff format, including three of the last four.

Next. All-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list. dark

The round of 12 is scheduled to get underway on Sunday, September 24 with the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway. The race is set to be broadcast live on USA Network starting at 3:30 p.m. ET. Take advantage of FuboTV’s free trial offer and don’t miss it!