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Statistically Speaking

9. Denny Hamlin

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Denny Hamlin stutter-stepped through the first half of the season.

He survived the season-opening Daytona 500 to finish in the top five and ironically sustained damage in his next two races instead of at the treacherous plate track. Despite being involved in an accident at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, he finished fifth in the Kobalt 400, then slipped outside the top 20 in his next two starts. He won the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway—heralding back to his old pattern of running well on short, flat tracks—but then finished worse than 20th in four of his next seven attempts.

Hamlin was on a rollercoaster for much of the season even though he ran well enough to stay in Chase consideration on the strength of his short track win. It didn’t appear he would be overly fantasy relevant, however, until his fifth-place finish in the August Pure Michigan 400.

There had been enough strong runs to keep his salary cap moderately high, but not enough to make him prohibitively expensive. When he suddenly began rattling off top-fives, he immediately became one of the best bargains in the game. His Michigan fifth was followed by thirds at Bristol Motor Speedway and Darlington Raceway, a sixth at Richmond International Raceway, another win at Chicagoland Speedway to start the Chase, and a second at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

His Chase hopes were established, but more importantly he regained a reputation as a short, flat track master and that made him predictable. Each year one surprising driver gets eliminated at Talladega SuperSpeedway during the Chase and in 2015 Hamlin drew the short straw. He also has a fuel pickup problem at Texas Motor Speedway, but the vast majority of his final 14 races ended in the top 10 and on the lead lap.

Championships galvanize a team, so even though Kyle Busch was the one hoisting the trophy in Homestead-Miami Speedway’s Victory Lane, look for Hamlin to benefit from that momentum and start 2016 strong. If he can also carry his consistency forward, he is going to be a great overall value for the first 10 races of the season.

 

Track

Career Avg.
Finish

Career Avg.
Start

Best
Finish

Career
Attempts

Race 1

Race 2

Darlington Raceway

6.50

9.70

1

10

3

 

Martinsville Speedway +

8.05

9.80

1

20

1

3

New Hampshire Motor Speedway

10.25

11.50

1

20

14

2

Homestead - Miami Speedway

10.73

24.73

1

11

10

 

Richmond International Raceway

10.79

10.84

1

19

22

6

Phoenix International Raceway

11.43

12.05

1

21

23

8

Texas Motor Speedway

12.15

16.10

1

20

11

38

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

12.20

20.70

3

10

5

 

Pocono Raceway

12.30

6.85

1

20

10

22

Charlotte Motor Speedway *

12.76

11.90

2

21

8

4

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

14.30

14.20

3

10

5

 

Michigan International Speedway

14.60

14.35

1

20

11

5

Kansas Speedway

15.40

14.60

1

15

41

2

Bristol Motor Speedway

16.65

15.65

1

20

26

3

Chicagoland Speedway

17.10

15.80

1

10

1

 

Daytona International Speedway +

17.95

19.15

2

20

4

3

Atlanta Motor Speedway

18.13

12.44

1

16

38

 

Kentucky Speedway

18.80

9.40

3

5

3

 

Dover Downs International

19.20

11.25

4

20

21

18

Talladega SuperSpeedway

19.40

19.25

1

20

9

37

Auto Club Speedway

19.64

11.87

3

15

28

 

Watkins Glen International

20.70

15.40

2

10

27

 

Sonoma Raceway

22.70

19.30

5

10

18

 

 

+ Top-five sweeps 
* Top-10 sweeps 
 

10. Martin Truex Jr. 
11. Kyle Larson 
12. Carl Edwards 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.