This past weekend of NASCAR was awesome as Denny Hamlin won the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver and 23XI team owner took his second checkered flag of the season. That FedEx No. 11 has had struggles this year. However, Hamlin still shows he has a little magic left, even behind the wheel of a Next Gen car.
We all saw what happened in Charlotte. This race looked like it would be Ross Chastain’s to lose. Then, Kyle Larson – after catching on fire, wrecking, blowing a tire or two, and having what he called one of the worst races of his life, only halfway through – almost took the win.
NASCAR hasn’t been kind to Denny Hamlin this season, either. However, a late restart would force this race into more extra laps. That pushed it to the longest Coca-Cola 600 ever at just over 619 miles. Hamlin took full advantage and took the win ahead of Kyle Busch in the No. 18. His thoughts on the race are below.
“Well, I thought it was going to be a piece of cake. I thought the 18 [Busch] was going to push me and it was going to box him in with the 1 [Chastain]. But when he lagged back and I saw a huge run coming, I was like, ‘Man I hope the 1 was still out there to box him in,’ and he wasn’t. And he kept o my outside, and I did not like my chances.”
The Jordan Brand driver went on to talk about coming off of turns three and four well enough to hold off his fellow JGR teammate. Busch is not someone you want stalking you when the race goes into overtime. You can feel the respect that Hamlin has for his teammate and competitor in the interview.
Denny Hamlin Shows the Old Guys Still Got It in NASCAR
This season, if you had to put it simply, has been about the young guys. NASCAR has ignored some of the older guys like Denny Hamlin, the Busch brothers, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and others. When you have all of these under-30 drivers winning races, driving aggressively, and exciting the fanbase like it hasn’t been for many years – it’s hard to focus on the past.
Next Gen car, the new generation of drivers, and what feels like a new era. However, guys like Hamlin and Busch, and Harvick aren’t just old guys holding on to their place in the sport. They are very much a threat to win races, and right now for Hamlin, make a deep playoff run.
If Denny Hamlin finishes up the NASCAR season with a couple more wins, then he will be in a great position. He needs to score some stage points week in and week out at the very least. If he doesn’t, it could put him in a tough spot despite his wins at Richmond and now Charlotte.
Finally, Hamlin has his 600 title and is now tied for 16th in all-time Cup Series wins with 48 total.