|Denny Hamlin in victory lane at Daytona, Feb. 2016|
credit: NASCAR via Getty Images/Sarah Crabill
Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing, kicked off the 2016 season in stellar fashion with a win in the Daytona 500 – his first in the historic event. Here’s an updated look at the career of the 2006 Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year, originally published in Feb. 2012.
- James Dennis Alan Hamlin was born Nov. 18, 1980 in Tampa, Florida, but grew up in Chesterfield, Virginia. He started racing go-karts at age 7, moving up to mini-stocks at age 16 at Langley Speedway – in his first start, he won the pole and the race. He moved up to Grand Stocks in 1998 and Late Models in 2000. In 2002 Late Model competition, Hamlin won 10 races; in 2003, he had 25 wins and 30 poles in 36 races.
- Hamlin signed a driver development contract with JGR in 2004, continuing in Late Models while also testing the waters of NASCAR’s Truck Series and Busch (now Xfinity) Series; he also made his first ARCA Racing Series start at Talladega, finishing third. 2005 was just as eventful, running full-time in the Busch Series for JGR while also making seven Cup Series starts.
- Hamlin’s rookie Cup Series season, 2006, was history-making, as he became the first rookie to compete in the Chase for the Cup, finishing third at season’s end. In addition to his Rookie of the Year title, Hamlin won both races at Pocono Raceway as well as the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona.
- Hamlin has won at least one race each year since 2006, with a career-high of eight wins in 2010, including both races at his home track of Martinsville Speedway and both Texas races; he finished second in points that season, his best points finish to date. As of the end of the 2015 season, he had 26 career Cup Series wins, 14 career Xfinity Series wins and two career Truck Series wins.
- Hamlin and his girlfriend Jordan Fish have a daughter, Taylor James Hamlin, born Jan. 20, 2013. Hamlin founded the Denny Hamlin Foundation to raise funds and awareness for the needs of children with cystic fibrosis as well as other chronic diseases.
- Find out more about Hamlin at www.dennyhamlin.com and more about the Denny Hamlin Foundation at www.dennyhamlinfoundation.org.