A week ago Denny Hamlin finished 16th for the first race in the Chase due to a team error by his gas man who did not fill the gas tank all the way. The error turned into an empty gas tank on the last lap at Chicagoland. After the race Denny Hamlin tweeted that he would win the next week at New Hampshire. Hamlin tweeted, “This is week 1 of 10. We will win next week.”
That statement didn’t start out well on Friday, the following week, when he went out to qualify. Due to another team error Hamlin qualified 32nd because he qualified on tires that had race tire pressures. Despite two team errors, two weeks in a row, Hamlin would not back down from his statement earlier in the week.
Hamlin came through with that promise by winning the Sylvania 300. He completely dominated the race as he took the lead after starting 28th by lap 100 and led 193 of 300 laps. Hamlin never looked back. The win also marked the 100th Sprint Cup victory for Joe Gibbs Racing. Sunday’s performance makes it obvious that Denny Hamlin is in a totally different mindset this season.
Hamlin’s mindset is a total 180 from where it was a year ago. Denny came into the Chase saying he was going to have a lot more fun and not put to much pressure on himself. This is apparent from his attitude after the 16th place finish at Chicagoland and a 32nd qualifying effort on Friday after another team error.
He never put down his teammates through the adversity but backed them in support and showed a side of compassion we had never seen before. A compassion that understood the crews feelings for hurting the team’s performance. Hamlin won’t let the mindset he had in 2010 or 2011 get in the way of a championship. He wants to win the Chase but he doesn’t want to get in his own way like he has in the past.
With this new mindset, Hamlin is proving that he is the man to beat in the Chase. Hamlin was running in the top 10 in week one of the Chase until a team error and today he took the win. The results are proving that the new attitude is helping him inch closer to a championship.
He is both, consistent and winning races. That combination can be deadly if you are the competition. Denny Hamlin’s new mindset is making him a front runner for the championship and his attitude is becoming the driving force behind his team’s success.