Start ‘N’ Park Blog is taking a look back at the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver by driver. This recap will take a look at the driver’s stats, the season’s highlights, the season’s lowlights, what a quick look at next year. This installment takes a look back at Denny Hamlin who finished in the 6th place in the final standings.
Preseason Pick: 7th
Top 5s: 14
Top 10s: 17
What Was Said Prior To The Season:
“So a few drivers ago I blasted Joe Gibbs Racing as not being there, then I turn around and put Hamlin 7th after a dreadful 2011. I have two words for you all. Darian Grubb. You can chalk up his past success to having championship drivers like Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart. Stewart’s ending in 2011 has been credited with his will to win, but at the same time Grubb made call after that call that worked during the same stretch. I think a new voice will boast Hamlin’s confidence up and he’ll rebound from 2011. He won’t be in the top three like in 2010, but it’ll be a great building block.”
What Happened In 2012:
Hamlin had a very solid season, coming into the Chase as the man to beat. The problem was, he did get beat in the Chase and had to settle for finishing sixth overall. He won four times in the first 26 races, but only once in the final 10 races. Poor finishes plagued his championship run plus some questionable pit calls cost him some races. It was certainly a turn in the right direction after how 2011 went, but it was not close to his 2010 results.
On To 2013:
I think Hamlin will benefit from having new teammate Matt Kenseth’s years of experience. That coupled with a second season with Darian Grubb will hopefully allow them to not make the same mistakes that cost them races in 2012.