Check out what Denny Hamlin needs to do for a successful 2017 season.
Denny Hamlin has been one of the most consistent drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series since making his full-time debut in 2006. Outside of a rough 2013, Hamlin has finished 12th or better in the points standings in every season with four top-five finishes.
Check out what Hamlin needs to do in 2017 to finally close the deal with a championship:
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Do what you do, Denny
For 90 percent of the season, Hamlin has it figured out. He’s made deep runs in the playoffs consistently but hasn’t closed it out yet in his 11-year Cup career.
The first goal is to take care of the opening part of the season, get some good finishes, visit Victory Lane a few times and start to set up for a championship push.
Getty ImagesMatt Sullivan
Slow down in the pits
Every three weeks last year Denny Hamlin told someone he was going to stop speeding on pit road and then he got another speeding penalty. The last thing Hamlin fans want to hear in 2017 is Mike Joy say, “No. 11 car, too fast on pit road”.
If you can’t completely eliminate the pit road penalties, let’s at least keep it in single digits in 2017, Denny.
Getty ImagesTom Pennington
Rack up playoff points
The best way for Hamlin to change his so-called “bad luck” in the playoffs will be to build an insurmountable lead that will essentially lock him into the Championship 4 at Homestead. With two buckets to fill for the season, Hamlin needs to focus on that playoff bucket by winning stages and races, then getting the highest points finish he can for a nice bonus heading into the playoffs.
Be the best at JGR
Outside of seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, Hamlin’s stiffest competition likely comes from his fellow Toyota teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing. If Hamlin can prove to be the best car in the Toyota camp, then he’ll take a big step toward winning his first Monster Energy Cup Series championship.
Getty ImagesJonathan Ferrey
Homestead or bust
It’s all about a championship in 2017 for Hamlin. He’s come so close year after year since his spectacular rookie season in 2006. He’s only a few years away from cementing his case over Mark Martin as the best driver to never win a championship.
If Hamlin doesn’t get a championship soon, the door will likely close. It isn’t his fault that Jimmie Johnson made history during his career and other dominant drivers like Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Brad Keselowski have been the guys to grab the title when Johnson doesn’t.
Another fourth-place points finish doesn’t add anything to Hamlin’s legacy. It’s championship or bust for the driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in 2017.