The 14 races left in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season are of the utmost importance to Denny Hamlin.
Winless going into the Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway, Hamlin doesn’t want to be shut out of victory lane this season. Not only because of the disappointment that comes with an ugly goose egg in that critical column, but because of a streak the Joe Gibbs Racing driver has going.
Hamlin has won at least one race a year in the Cup Series since he began full-time in 2006. If he were to win this year, Hamlin would extend the streak to 13 consecutive seasons with a win.
“It is a very important streak,” Hamlin said. “I think about it, and I thought it was all over in 2013 – the year that I broke my back and we won the final race of the season to keep the streak alive.”
Injured in the fifth race of the season at Fontana, Hamlin missed the next five races. He returned at Talladega and went all the way until Homestead before pulling into the winner’s circle.
In seven of his 12 seasons, Hamlin has won multiple races. Last year, Hamlin won for the first time in July and then again in September.
“You look back at the really great drivers of NASCAR, and they had long streaks – 10 years and above of winning in a row and you just want that to go on,” said Hamlin. “For sure, it’s important.”
Some examples of lengthy winning streaks in NASCAR:
Richard Petty went 18 straight years with a win, spanning from 1960 through 1977.
Jeff Gordon had a streak of 14 consecutive seasons with a win from 1994 through 2007. Gordon went winless for the first time in his career in 2008.
Tony Stewart carried a streak of 15 straight seasons with a win from 1999 to 2013. Dale Earnhardt also had a streak of 15 between 1982 and 1996.
Rusty Wallace went 16 straight seasons with a win from 1986-2001.
Jimmie Johnson currently has a streak of 16 consecutive seasons with a win, dating back to his first full season, 2002. However, he is also winless this year.
Hamlin won his second consecutive Cup Series pole Friday afternoon at Michigan, where he is a two-time winner. He has also won at 10 of the last 14 tracks on the schedule.