Of all the drivers looking forward to competing this weekend at Richmond, none is more eager to get there than Denny Hamlin, who grew up in Chesterfield, Virginia about 30 minutes away from the track. Hamlin’s home-court advantage has been on full display at times over the years, too, as he’s picked up three Cup Series wins and finished in the top five in exactly half of his 30 starts at the facility where he grew up attending races and fell in love with the sport (Hamlin also has 19 top-10s at Richmond). So the Joe Gibbs Racing driver is likely to be a contender for the victory on Sunday, and that’s a very good thing when considering how much he and his No. 11 team have struggled in 2022.
Coming into the weekend, Hamlin is 22nd in the standings and hasn’t recorded a top-10 finish in six starts this season. His issues have resulted from a combination of driver error, mediocre race cars and just plain rotten luck. But if there’s any track that can serve as good medicine for Hamlin and potentially get his season pointed in the right direction, it’s Richmond.
On the other hand, a poor outcome this weekend for Hamlin could be nothing less than devastating to his attempt to right the ship and return to his typical frontrunning ways that have landed him in the Championship 4 in each of the last three years. Hamlin is a long way from being in championship form right now, but Richmond could prove to be the catalyst for a turnaround.