The indication was that Hamlin hadn’t quite figured out the 2.5-mile superspeedway in his first few seasons. He started the race fourth after winning his Duel race but finished 17th in the 500.
Another poor result came in 2009 for Hamlin. He started the race in 10th and finished 26th in the rain-shortened event.
After a strong showing in the previous year’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona, where Hamlin finished third, it seemed like he might be trending in the right direction at the superspeedway. It wasn't the case. He started 25th and finished 17th.
A 14th-place finish would have served as Hamlin’s best finish of his first six appearances in the Daytona 500 but it serves as his worst since 2012. He started the race 35th before finishing just inside the top 15.
(c) , Michael L. Levitt(c) 2013, Michael L. Levitt
Hamlin led 16 laps and finished second to Dale Earnhardt Jr. when the race ended under caution in 2014. It proved that he had figured out how to have success at Daytona.
Once again, the race ended under caution in 2015 and Hamlin was right there vying for the lead when it finished. He ended up fourth, right behind Dale Earnhardt Jr. again. Joey Logano went on to win the race.
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After years of struggling and then a few near misses, Hamlin beat Martin Truex Jr. by the narrowest margin in Daytona 500 history (0.010 seconds) and finally captured the Harley J. Earl Trophy last season.