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Past Fantasy Outlooks
The wins were slow to come last season and in the end, he captured only two over the 36-race schedule. Still, Hamlin had one of his most consistent efforts in 2021. The Joe Gibbs Racing star captured a career-best 25 Top-10 finishes and posted the lowest average finish of his career at 8.4. It didn't add up to that long-sought championship, but it kept Hamlin relevant the entire season and in the championship conversation right up until the end. Now 41-years-old, there appears to be no slowing down in sight for Hamlin. At least not yet. The No. 11 JGR team returns completely intact for the upcoming season and Hamlin will continue to work with Chris Gabehart atop the team's war wagon. The 16-season veteran will once again set out in pursuit of that elusive Cup Series championship, and he will win multiple races and challenge once again for NASCAR's highest honor.
The 40-year-old veteran is coming off the best two-season run of his NASCAR Cup Series career. Hamlin has averaged seven wins and 23 Top 10s the last two campaigns and he's challenged for the championship. Were it not for some ill-timed inconsistency during the playoffs, Hamlin could have likely won the championship each of the last two years. However, that has been his lone shortcoming. As to dominance and statistical production, the Joe Gibbs Racing star has it in spades. The No. 11 Toyota team returns completely intact after last season and still headed up by crew chief, Chris Gabehart. Hamlin and he will keep this team operating at a high level, but we tend to believe the numbers will begin a slow creep downward with time. The veteran driver has crossed that invisible 40-year-old line that typically starts to erode driving ability.
The Joe Gibbs Racing veteran rebounded spectacularly last season. After posting a disappointing 2018 campaign, Hamlin erased any doubts about his driving ability with a stellar six-win, 24 Top 10 campaign in 2019. The driver of the No. 11 Toyota would race for the championship at Homestead but fall short finishing fourth in the title chase. Still, it was a very impressive effort for the 39-year-old driver. Hamlin will look to hold onto those gains with crew chief, Chris Gabehart, who led him to that success. He posted career-best marks in terms of Top 5's, Top 10's and average finish position for the season. It will be tough to top that level of performance, so we expect a slight pull back in those numbers in 2020. Hamlin will still be in the top tier of drivers, but don't expect a carbon copy of last year's titanic performance.
The Joe Gibbs Racing veteran endured a challenging season in 2018. Hamlin went winless for the first time in his 13-season career, and posted a five-season low in Top 10s with 17. It all added up to his worst point standings finish (11th) of the last five years. Hamlin will look to hit the reset button this season and get back to his winning ways. He'll start out with a new crew chief as Mike Wheeler moves on to other challenges and the No. 11 team will be headed up by new chief, Chris Gabehart. We expect Hamlin to rebound to more recent numbers this season. That would include getting back to victory lane once or twice and a Top-10 total closer to 20 or more. Hamlin could come cheaper in fantasy drafts this season, and that presents some value to those that wait.
The Joe Gibbs Racing star is coming off a typical season for the No. 11 Toyota team. Hamlin racked up two victories and 22 Top-10 finishes en route to finishing sixth in the driver standings for the second-straight year. That's been the pattern and the mark for this driver and team for the last three seasons. Crew chief Mike Wheeler and Hamlin have found a good level of consistency and the ability to win races, but they're just shy of the serious championship contender level. Although Hamlin came painfully close to making the Championship 4 at Homestead, but came up just short. With the retirement of Matt Kenseth, we expect more focus at Joe Gibbs Racing to fall on Hamlin and his race team. He and Kyle Busch are the faces of the franchise now, and championship contention is the ultimate measure of success. We expect to see Hamlin race with some real urgency in 2018.
The Joe Gibbs Racing star is one of the streakiest driver's in the Monster Energy Cup Series. Hamlin is known for his classic hot and cold streaks throughout each season. He can go on a tear for several races and be the best driver in the series or he can go completely stone cold for a period. However, it all seems to work out in the end and he'll post 2-to-3 wins and 20-22 Top 10's with a Top-10 finish in the final driver standings most of the time. 2016 was a high point in some ways as Hamlin managed a career-best 11.8 average finish. This was due in large part to much better qualifying than Hamlin typically does over a season. Hamlin and crew chief Mike Wheeler will be reunited in 2017 and they'll get right to work on improving on what was a pretty good campaign last season. This is a contract year for Hamlin, so motivation to push even higher will be priority.
There was some good news and some bad news for the driver of the No. 11 Toyota in 2015. While Hamlin rebounded to two victories and 20 top-10 finishes, it was his inconsistency late in the season that prevented him from making the Championship 4 in the Chase like he did in 2014. The disappointment of not racing for the title at Homestead was a bit mitigated by the fact that Hamlin performed better and more consistently than he has the two previous campaigns. The veteran driver will have a new crew chief in the upcoming season with Mike Wheeler taking over the duties during the offseason. Considering that Joe Gibbs Racing in general is on the rise, we can only be very optimistic that Hamlin will continue his upward trajectory in 2016.
Last season’s Chase for the Cup was like a tale of two seasons for Hamlin. He started the 10-race playoff with one victory and three Top-10 finishes, but in the second half he faded miserably. Hamlin only posted one Top 10 in the final five races of last year and limped to the finish line of 2012. That gave the driver of the No. 11 Toyota a sixth-place finish in the final driver standings. As good as Hamlin can be, he often shows mental fragility when it’s all on the line. Still, his 18 victories the last four years rank him among the elite in NASCAR. A potential championship may lie just out of reach for a time for this talented driver, but race wins and many Top 10’s are certainly in his near-future with Joe Gibbs Racing.
Hamlin filled in the last races of 2005 for Gibbs in the #11 car very well. He captured the pole position at Phoenix and collected a few top 10 finishes in his handful of starts. A rookie of the year award could be in the future of Hamlin this season.
More Fantasy News
Fast Kansas Practice
Hamlin was fastest in Happy Hour practice for the AdventHealth 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway Saturday. He turned a fast lap of 174.887 mph.
Fifth-Place at the Monster Mile
Hamlin finished fifth in Monday's rain-delayed Würth 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover Motor Speedway.
Wins Talladega Pole
Hamlin won the pole for the GEICO 500 NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway Saturday. He turned a fast lap of 180.751 mph.
Top-5 Finish in NOCO 400
Hamlin finished fourth in the NOCO 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway Sunday afternoon.
The National Motorsports Appeals Panel NASCAR.com penalties assessed to Hamlin on Thursday.