Four-time Pocono Raceway winner Denny Hamlin arrives in the idyllic Pocono Mountains for Sunday’s race understandably feeling on the verge of another victory. His past and present performance point to a good showing this weekend.
Not only is he the winningest active driver at the track, Hamlin has led laps in the last eight straight races coming to Pocono and finished a dramatic runner-up to Kevin Harvick last week at New Hampshire.
For this year’s Daytona 500 winner Hamlin, Pocono has been the Not-So-Tricky Triangle – a positive variation on its traditional nickname. Hamlin won the first two Cup races he competed in here – from the pole position – in 2006. Twice he’s won back-to-back races – the 2006 sweep and again in fall, 2009 and spring, 2010.
Hamlin’s 694 laps led at Pocono is second only to Jimmie Johnson’s 740 and includes a spectacular 2006 showing of this race when he led 151 of the 200 race laps. He’s finished top-10 in four of the last six Pocono races and was sixth in June. And his 7.074 average start through 28 races is second best all-time to NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson out of drivers with more than one start, who averaged a 4.667 start, but in only six races.
In the last five weeks of the 2019 schedule, Hamlin has three top-five finishes including that runner-up finish last week at New Hampshire. Six times he’s finished fifth place in a race. His 113 laps led at New Hampshire was second only to teammate Kyle Busch’s 118.
In all, Hamlin has 12 top-10 finishes including his second Daytona 500 victory to open the season and then a win at Texas in April.
The combination of his work in particular at Pocono, and in general during this season, has given the No. 11 JGR Toyota team every reason to feel optimistic about this weekend.
“I’ve been fortunate to have had success in the past at Pocono and it’s a track where I’m always hopeful I can get a win for our team,’’ Hamlin said. “Our team is currently on a streak of some solid performances and I’m looking forward to continuing that this weekend.’’