If you were to go just by his results from the last few weeks, Denny Hamlin would say he’s not close to returning to victory lane. But his confidence is as high as ever going into the Gander Outdoors 400 at Pocono Raceway.
“I honestly feel like this could be the weekend where it’s like, all of a sudden, well we didn’t see that coming,” Hamlin said. “We’re going to take a little different approach with setups and things that we do starting this week, and hopefully, it’s a turn in the right direction.”
Of the six tracks left in the regular season, Hamlin has previously won at five of them: Pocono, Watkins Glen, Michigan, Bristol and Darlington. The outlier is Indianapolis, whose new September date makes it the cutoff race for the playoffs this year.
Hamlin was quick and confident about which track gives him the best shot at scoring a win before the playoffs start.
“Anybody that thinks I can’t win any given week is crazy,” he said. “We can win just about anywhere, we have won just about everywhere. Darlington is one specific[ly] that I feel like I’m a really good driver at. But each week I look before I get on the racetrack Friday or Saturday and say, I know I can win here.”
Hamlin, a four-time winner at Pocono, finished 35th here last month after crashing in Turn 1 with Alex Bowman.
As for what it will take to get that win, Hamlin pinpointed the No. 11 team’s weakness.
“Probably two out of the last three weeks I felt like we’ve had one of the best cars in practice, better than all of our teammates including Kyle [Busch], and just overnight our car doesn’t keep up with where the racetrack is on race day,” Hamlin said. “So that’s part the struggle for us, keeping up with that.
“But like I said, I’m optimistic every time I come to the racetrack, even when we’re struggling, that we’re going to turn it around right here, right now. It’s not going to be a process for us. It’s going to be overnight we’ll be back where we’ve always been.”