DENNY HAMLIN (JOE GIBBS RACING) TOYOTA
2020 DRIVER FANTASY RANKING: 3rd
2019 FANTASY NASCAR RANK: 2nd
2019 RECAP: Denny Hamlin had a career year in 2019 and if it were not for the team covering his entire grill with tape at Homestead, he would likely be the defending champion. Hamlin had a career-high 19 finishes in the top five, a career-high 24 finishes in the top 10 and a career-best 9.5 average finishing position. He won the Daytona 500 and five other races (Texas, Pocono, Bristol, Kansas and Phoenix). He was just as good as his two Joe Gibbs Racing teammates (Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr.) but we did not have to pay the high price for him in DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports) and he was a good pivot from the more popular drivers in season long games (Fantasy Live and the Driver Group Game). Overall, Hamlin was good everywhere and awarded fantasy teams who used him a lot in their lineups.
2020 Preview: Can Denny Hamlin improve from his best season in the Cup Series? He had shoulder surgery following the race at Homestead. He said he will be 100% for the Daytona 500 and the lack of pain should allow him to focus more clearly on racing. Everything else is the same for the No. 11 team. Chris Gabehardt returns as the crew chief and FedEx remains as the primary sponsor. The 2020 season is the last year on Hamlin’s contract but Joe Gibbs Racing has an option to pick up his contract for the 2021 season (meaning Hamlin will not be a free agent until after the 2021 season if JGR wants it that way).
Hamlin was a good fantasy pick at all types of tracks in 2019. He scored the second-most points on the Flat tracks and Superspeedways, the fifth-most points on the Intermediate tracks, the sixth-most points on the Road Courses and the ninth-most points on the Steep tracks. It was hard to go wrong with Hamlin in your fantasy lineup. He will once again be a great pick at his home tracks in Virginia (Richmond and Martinsville). I doubt Joe Gibbs Racing will still have the advantage on the Intermediate tracks that they had in 2019, but Hamlin is still a good pick for Texas. Hamlin will once again be a driver we can rely on in 2020.
INTERMEDIATE TRACK VALUE (1.5 / 2-Mile Ovals)
Denny Hamlin had one of his best seasons on the Intermediate tracks. He won at Texas and Kansas and he led laps in seven of the 11 races on the 1.5-mile tracks. I am not so sure Hamlin will have the same success on these tracks as he did last year. Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano seem to have a leg up on the competition at the Intermediate tracks so they are better picks for your fantasy team. Hamlin is a better pick for the Flat tracks and Superspeedways. If you are going to use him at the Intermediate tracks, make sure it is at Texas and Auto Club. He has had a lot of success in those two tracks. (Denny Hamlin ranked 5th in fantasy points scored on the Intermediate Tracks in 2019)
SUPERSPEEDWAY TRACK VALUE (Daytona / Talladega)
Denny Hamlin is one of the best Superspeedway drivers in the Cup Series. The only driver who may be better is Joey Logano. What makes Hamlin’s runs on the Superspeedway so incredible is that he does it with little help from other drivers. The Fords and Chevys usually work with their teammates and leave the limited number of Toyotas out on their own. Hamlin is good at staying up front, and backing off when he feels the pack is racing too aggressively. His ability to be at the front when the White Flag is waived makes him one of the best fantasy picks at the Superspeedways. Make sure the Daytona 500 champion is in your fantasy lineups at all Superspeedway races in 2020. (Denny Hamlin ranked 2nd in fantasy points scored on the Superspeedways in 2019)
FLAT TRACK VALUE (Richmond / Phoenix / Martinsville / Loudon)
Denny Hamlin has always been known as a great driver on the Flat tracks in his home state of Virginia (Richmond and Martinsville). It was surprising to see him find his way to Victory Lane last year at ISM Raceway (Phoenix). It was his first win in the desert since 2012. So how good was Hamlin on the Flat tracks in 2019? He finished every race in the top five. That is awesome! Richmond, Martinsville and Loudon rank as three of his top-five tracks. He should be in all lineups when the Cup Series travels to these tracks. I would wait to see how he looks in practice before using him again at Phoenix. (Denny Hamlin ranked 2nd in fantasy points scored on the Flat Tracks in 2019)
STEEP TRACK VALUE (Bristol / Dover / Darlington)
When most fantasy experts’ think of Denny Hamlin they think of his Flat track dominance. It was surprising to see Hamlin in Victory Lane last year at Bristol. It was his first win in Thunder Valley since 2012. Hamlin backed up his spring win at Bristol with a top-five finish in the Night Race. Hamlin also won the pole, led 218 laps and finished fifth at Dover. Darlington ranks as his best track but he was only able to finish 29th last year. He finished his previous four races at the Lady in Black in the top 10 so do not worry about last year’s results. Hamlin is still a good pick for Darlington and he will have some fantasy value at Bristol and Dover too. (Denny Hamlin ranked 9th in fantasy points scored on the Steep Tracks in 2019)
ROAD COURSE TRACK VALUE (Sonoma / Watkins Glen / Roval)
Denny Hamlin is one of the more underrated drivers on the Road Courses. His teammates, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch, receive much of the hype but Hamlin has been better than Busch and nearly as good as Truex at these tracks. He has finished seven of his last 10 Road Course races in the top 10, including a win at Watkins Glen and a last lap pass by Tony Stewart in 2016 gave him a second-place finish at Sonoma. I would rather use Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott at these tracks but Hamlin makes for a good pivot at Sonoma and Watkins Glen. (Denny Hamlin ranked 6th in fantasy points scored on the Road Courses in 2019)
Best Tracks to for Denny Hamlin: 1) Darlington, 2) Richmond, 3) Martinsville, 4) Loudon, 5) Indianapolis
*Stats from FantasyRacingCheatSheet.com
* Team Information from Jaysky.com
* Fantasy NASCAR Video from nascar.com
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