2022 Season in Review: Denny Hamlin
CREW CHIEF: Chris Gabehart
TEAM: Joe Gibbs Racing
POINTS: Fifth in Cup Series
WINS: Two (Richmond I, Charlotte I)
LAPS LED: 624
TOP 5s: 10
TOP 10s: 16
MORE: Kyle Busch one-on-one
QUALIFIED FIRST: Three times (Charlotte I, Nashville, Pocono)
WHAT WENT RIGHT: Hamlin had another playoff year, winning at Richmond and Charlotte and scoring nine other top-10 runs.
Hamlin notched a historic win at Charlotte, as the Coca-Cola 600 was extended to 619.5 miles, making Hamlin the winner of the longest Cup race in miles in history.
He reached the Round of 8, opening the playoffs strong with second-place runs at Darlington and Kansas.
His cars generally were fast, as he led big chunks of laps at Las Vegas, Dover, Darlington, Nashville, Michigan and Martinsville.
WHAT WENT WRONG: For one thing, Ross Chastain. Chastain’s wild move on the last lap of the Martinsville playoff race put Chastain in the Championship 4 and eliminated Hamlin’s quest to be one of the finalists.
Hamlin’s failure to win over the season’s final 22 races was not impressive.
Hamlin and William Byron engaged in on-track tussles in the Texas playoff race. Hamlin raced Byron hard in Turn 2, pushing him into the outside wall. Byron retaliated by spinning Hamlin under caution.
At Gateway, Hamlin and Ross Chastain exchanged on-track bumps, and Chastain sent Hamlin into a late-race slide at Atlanta.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2023: Despite a career that has produced 48 Cup victories, Hamlin remains without a Cup championship. He’s 42 year old and running out of time. JGR’s cars weren’t top of the line in 2022, but Hamlin can be expected to roll into the playoffs again.