The driver of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry just achieved a major career goal. Denny Hamlin held off teammate Kyle Busch during double overtime at Charlotte Motor Speedway and won the first Coca-Cola 600 of his career.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver outlasted the field during the wildest Coca-Cola 600 in NASCAR history. This was the longest race at 413 laps (619.5 miles). It also lasted five hours, 13 minutes, and eight seconds, which was 44 seconds shy of tying the 2005 race. Hamlin survived several massive wrecks that collected championship contenders, including one in the first overtime segment where Austin Dillon, Joey Logano, and Kyle Larson all went spinning out of control.
Once the second overtime began, Hamlin battled with Busch over the final two laps. The two men jockeyed for position, but the driver of the No. 18 got a little loose and wiggled just enough to give the No. 11 the lead. Hamlin jumped out to the front once again and crossed the finish line first.
Hamlin set the stage for his performance on May 28. He posted the fastest lap during qualifying and won the Busch Light Pole. Hamlin then explained to FOX Sports’ Jamie Little that the Coca-Cola 600 was a special race missing from his collection due to being a Coca-Cola driver for his entire Cup Series career.
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Hamlin Tied a Hall of Famer at Charlotte Motor Speedway
This win was massive for Hamlin for multiple reasons. It was his first at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and it was one of the coveted Crown Jewels. The win also moved him into a tie with a Hall of Famer on the all-time wins list.
Hamlin entered the race weekend with 47 career Cup Series wins, good enough for 17th all-time. He won his 48th career race and moved into a tie for 16th with Hall of Famer Herb Thomas, who was NASCAR’s first two-time Cup Series champion.
Hamlin has steadily moved up the wins list throughout his career, and he now has more work to do. He is now only one win away from tying Hall of Famer Tony Stewart. Smoke reached Victory Lane 49 times during his Cup Series career while capturing three championships.
Hamlin tied Thomas with his 48th win. He also joined another prestigious list. According to NASCAR, he became the only driver other than Bobby Allison to win the Coca-Cola 600, multiple Daytona 500s, the Bristol Motor Speedway night race, and the Southern 500.
Hamlin Majorly Helped Himself Ahead of the Playoffs
The driver of the No. 11 entered the race weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway with one win in 2022. He captured the April 3 race at Richmond Raceway and secured his spot in the playoffs. He also partially turned around a season that had featured numerous issues and DNFs.
Despite having a win in his pocket, Hamlin headed to Charlotte 20th in points. He was ranked below winless drivers in Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones, as well as Kansas winner Kurt Busch.
The win at Charlotte Motor Speedway won’t automatically bump Hamlin to the top of the list, but it will provide him with some cushion heading toward the playoffs. He will move up the list after adding 42 points to his total. He will also leapfrog both Suarez and Busch after wrecks ended their Coca-Cola 600 runs early.