NASCAR: Should Denny Hamlin and the No. 11 Team Be Worried With His Performance?

by Jonathan Howard
(Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

So far this NASCAR season, Denny Hamlin has been struggling. He has yet to finish in the top-10 through the first four races of the season. 2022 has not been kind, to say the least to the No. 11 crew.

No Toyota has claimed a checkered flag this season. That could be a big issue for the drivers moving forward. However, there have been chances for a Toyota victory multiple times this season. The thing is, it hasn’t been Denny Hamlin. The No. 11 driver has a season-best finish of 13th. That result was at last Sunday’s Phoenix Raceway.

It gets bleaker for Hamlin when it comes to the NASCAR Cup Series Standings. He has just 62 points this season. If he hopes to make the top-16 and another Cup Series Playoffs berth, things have to change quickly. Now, it is early in the season. However, with the top-16 drivers currently sitting at 97 points or better, it doesn’t look good for Hamlin’s team.

NASCAR’s Backseat Drivers posed the question, should Denny Hamlin be worried? The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has talked about the struggle with new cars and seems to have hit some bad luck along the way, too.

“I’m a little bit worried. I’m a little bit worried because, even though the 23XI [team] has been running well, they haven’t been running incredibly well,” one of the hosts said on the show.

As a driver and team owner in NASCAR, Hamlin has a lot to worry about. His own team and driving, for one, and then the success of his sophomore racing team 23XI. Bubba Wallace and Kurt Busch have raced well this season, but are still not comfortable with where they are at.

NASCAR Heads to Atlanta and Denny Hamlin Needs a Good Finish

At this point in the season, you have to start earning those top-10, top-5 finishes, or else the field is going to get away from you. Last season, the difference between 16th and those 17-20 spots was razor-thin. That goes for Denny Hamlin and his racing team, 23XI. Busch currently sits at 12th in the standings, but that can disappear in one week. Wallace is 17th and looking to recreate the early success he had at Daytona.

So, I think you do have to be a little worried for the Hamlin crew. They know how much is at stake with each week. As NASCAR heads to Atlanta for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. Atlanta Motor Speedway offers new opportunities for Hamlin and the rest of the field. Will they be able to take advantage and make a difference this week?

All of that remains to be seen. However, this season has produced some exciting and interesting races. Hopefully, we see that trend continue in Atlanta.