Widely considered one of the best drivers to never win a NASCAR Cup Series championship, Denny Hamlin will take another crack at claiming the sport’s most elusive and prestigious prize.
Since NASCAR implemented a season-ending championship race for its top division in 2014, Hamlin has been part of the Championship 4 three times – including in each of the past two seasons. Hamlin finished a career-best runner-up in the standings in 2010 under the old championship format.
“Most people gauge your success level or how good you are off of championships, but I also know that my competitors will probably say that I’m one of the toughest competitors and toughest guys to beat,” Hamlin said. “That’s all I really care about is having the respect of them.”
Easily one of the biggest stories of the season will be the success of 23XI Racing, the new team co-owned by Denny Hamlin and basketball legend Michael Jordan. While NASCAR has had a lot of prominent, successful team owners through the years, none has carried a universal reach that compares to that of Jordan — a six-time NBA champion widely considered the greatest basketball player of all time.
“This is obviously very, very big,” said Hamlin, who in partnership with Jordan will field Toyotas for driver Bubba Wallace. “It’s very ground-breaking in our sport to have this new team come in here and be at the caliber that Michael is, and how big of an icon he is worldwide. It certainly brings a lot of attention.”