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Countdown to Daytona - 10 Days

(Cover Photo Credit: Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)

By Adam Carabine

In case you missed it, StatChat is counting down the days ‘til the 2023 Daytona 500. Every two days, we will have a new article featuring one of the 36 charters of 2022.

5th Place – Denny Hamlin – 2,378 pts


444 Less Points in 2022 Than in 2021 – Of the entire roster of full-time Cup Series charter drivers who were also driving in 2021, Denny Hamlin had the worst turnaround. He scored 444 less points than in ’21, which ranks him 2nd only behind Kurt Busch (who missed 16 races). Many of his stats were not completely terrible, but the most important one is points. It may have come down to a “Hail Melon” to knock him from the Final 4, but Hamlin could have made his life a lot easier if he’d been a bit more consistent collecting points.

9 Top 5s in 2022 – While his nine Top 5s are more than William Byron’s five, nine is actually the LOWEST number of Top 5s that Denny Hamlin has scored since 2014! His Top 10 numbers were lacking in 2022 as well – as he only scored 16. (Compare that to 2021’s 25 Top 10s). The new Next-Gen car was meant to even the playing field, but it seems that Hamlin caught the worst of it, especially with the Toyotas seeming to be a step behind the others.

624 Laps Led in 2022 – An indicator of what a strange season it was for Denny Hamlin is how many laps he led. His 624 in 2022 ranked 8th of all Cup Series charters, which is a solid number. The finishes just weren’t there. And as you’ve surely read in this series before, there’s only really one lap that matters, the final one. Hamlin acknowledges that his team struggled on pit road, racking up penalties at inopportune times. This may have contributed to him not being able to close out more races.

+431 Pass Differential in 2022 – What’s surprising about this statistical category is just how much better Denny Hamlin was in this area than in 2021. His ’21 Pass Differential was still a positive one, but only +174. Again, maybe this speaks to issues on pit road, meaning Denny has to consistently be restarting farther back in the field. He might be able to pass a bunch more cars by virtue of starting farther back, but ultimately he’s not able to make it all the way to P1.

5 DNFs in 2022 – Again, another anomaly in Denny Hamlin’s season was the number of DNFs he had. Five is the highest number of DNFs Hamlin has scored since his worst ever statistical season in 2013. In 2021, he managed to not have a single DNF the entire season. However, at the end of the day, Hamlin still nearly made the Championship 4, had it not been for Ross Chastain. Hamlin knows how to turn it on when the pressure rises.

Denny Hamlin has been in the No. 11 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing since the very beginning of his Cup Series career. He’s never driven for another team in Cup in 614 races. That tradition will continue in 2023, as Hamlin will return to JGR and continue driving the 11.

Coming up next in the Countdown to Daytona series – Chase Elliott!

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