The driver of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry has moved up a historic leaderboard after a stunning win at Richmond Raceway. Denny Hamlin won his 47th career race and broke a tie with NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Elzie Wylie “Buck” Baker on the all-time wins list.
The Virginia native headed to his home track on Sunday, April 3, with 46 career wins, and he suited up for 400 laps around the short track. He did not crack the top 10 during Stage 1 or Stage 2, but he utilized the correct strategy during the final run to the checkered flag. He chased down both Martin Truex Jr. and William Byron using fresher tires, and he passed them both with five laps remaining.
“Yeah, just great strategy there. Just drove as hard as I could. Just so proud of this whole FedEx Camry team, man, just never giving up,” Hamlin told FOX Sports’ Jamie Little after the race. “There was no doubt in my mind, maybe just a little, but they got this car right there towards the end. Wow, unbelievable.”
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Hamlin Can Chase Down Other Hall of Fame Members
With Baker now behind him on the all-time wins leaderboard, Hamlin can now turn his attention to several other members of the Hall of Fame. Next up on the list are Herb Thomas, who has 48 career Cup Series victories, and Tony Stewart with 49.
If Hamlin can pass both Thomas and Stewart, he will have the opportunity to crack the top 15 on the all-time wins list. He will also be within striking distance of Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett, who both have 50 career wins.
Hamlin will be unable to track down Richard Petty (200 wins), David Pearson (105 wins), or Jeff Gordon (93 wins), barring an unprecedented winning streak, but he should be able to inch closer to some peers. Kevin Harvick (58 wins) and Kyle Busch (59 wins) are the only two active drivers ahead of him as they both sit inside the top 10.
Hamlin Snapped a Surprising Streak
The win at Richmond Raceway helped Hamlin break his tie with Baker. It also snapped a streak of finishes outside the top 10 that included three DNFs and dropped him to 22nd overall in the championship standings.
Hamlin’s best finish in 2022 was 13th overall at Phoenix Raceway. He had not posted a top-10 or a top-five finish in the Gen 7 car while dealing with some issues on the track, including a broken transaxle at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and an ill-timed push that wrecked both him and Kyle Larson at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Hamlin is still only 20th in points overall, and he has considerable ground to make up in the remaining regular-season races. However, he is currently locked into the playoffs due to sitting inside the top 30 in points.
Along with breaking his own winless streak, Hamlin scored a win for members of the Toyota Racing Development family. He brought an end to the 11-race winless streak by Toyota drivers, which dated back to Bubba Wallace’s win at Talladega Superspeedway on October 4, 2021.