Hamlin Calls His Shot, Continues the Streak and His RLC Lead

Race Breakdown

On Monday before the Dover race, Denny Hamlin did a very Denny Hamlin thing and called his shot to win the race. On Sunday, Denny Hamlin did another very Denny Hamlin thing and backed it up, winning the Wurth 400 at the Monster Mile in Dover. This was Hamlin’s second Dover win and his third win of the season, tying him with William Byron for the most wins for 2024.  

Hamlin started sixth and held that position till the end of Stage 1. He climbed to P3 at the end of Stage 2 before capturing the point shortly after the mid-point of Stage 3. He led twice for 136 laps (the most), including the final 72 laps for the win. His winning pass was on the Lap 329 Restart where got past Kyle Larson and began his final run that was interrupted by the final caution on Lap 330 for an incident between Bubba Wallace, Christopher Bell, William Byron and Zane Smith on the backstretch that forced them to re-rack and do it again. Hamlin came out of that restart in the lead and set sail in the clean air. Lapped traffic kept him from running away with the race and he used aero to his advantage to keep the charging Larson at bay for the win.

The season talk continues to be who can unseat Hendrick Motorsports or Joe Gibbs Racing, teams who had won all but two races this season? Tyler Reddick provided semi-relief last week as 23XI with Michael Jordon in attendance took the Talladega trophy home. But since they are an affiliate of JGR, it didn’t feel like a true “outsider” win.  

With Sunday’s win, Hamlin reapplied the JGR/HMS headlock on 2024 wins.  Sunday’s Kansas race provides the next opportunities for other teams to break the stranglehold.  

HMS’ Larson finished 2nd with JGR teammate and last year’s winner, Martin Truex, Jr. taking 3rd. “Outsider” and Pole-sitter, Kyle Busch came across the line 4th with HMS’ Chase Elliott rounding out the Top Five.  Noah Gragson put together another strong showing bringing the first Ford across the Stripe in 6th, followed by CRB, Champion Ryan Blaney in another Ford. Alex Bowman brought the final running HMS’ mount in to finish P8. Kaulig’s Daniel Hemric turned in a strong P9 performance, while Ty Gibbs brought the final running JGR in to round out the Top 10.

It was his 54th Career Cup win, tying him for 12th with three-time Cup Champ and Hall of Famer, Lee Petty on the All-Time Cup Win List. He is now second on the Active Cup Win List behind Kyle Busch and tied for second with Kyle Larson on the GEN7 Win List.  

With this win, plus Stage Points, Hamlin left Dover earning the most points and jumping two positions to fourth in the 2024 Regular Season’s Standings – 49 points behind Regular Season Points Leader, Kyle Larson.  Martin Truex, Jr. won Stage 1 while Kyle Larson won Stage 2. Seven drivers scored Stage Points in both Stages and finished in the Top 10. Only 12 different drivers scored Stage Points, barely over the minimum of 10.  

Lead Change Breakdown

Here is a statistical breakdown of the passing and lead changes we saw at Dover include the following Lead Changes:

Todd Gilliland, #38, pits during the NASCAR Cup Series Würth 400 at Dover International Speedway on April 28, 2024 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Although Denny Hamlin did not have any Racing Lead Changes this week, he was able to retain the lead in Racing Lead Changes. Below are the RLC Standings:


Dover’s 4 RLCs ranks 5th in the RLC Track Ranking.  Talladega had the most with 49 and Richmond had a single.

Passing Breakdown

Here is a breakdown of the remainder of passes throughout the race.


White Flag Thoughts

Here’s some thoughts coming down to the Checkered Flag.

Dover’s 4 Racing Lead Changes was double what we saw last season (2) and the season before (2). So that is a positive metric. Unfortunately, three occurred in Stage 1, another in Stage 2 and none in the final Stage, which put a damper on the excitement and drama building throughout the race.

Another race, another JGR win with Denny Hamlin taking the win. He came away with the most points which allowed him to move up to P4 in the standings and creep up some on the leader, Larson.  

The HMS/JGR stranglehold on the season continues. Each had 3 cars running at the end with all running in the Top 10. If Denny hadn’t won, it would have been Larson and if not him, Truex, Jr. Maybe Kansas can shake things up some.

Ford struck out again. Blaney showed strength, qualifying P2, leading twice for 47 laps, scoring one Racing Lead Change, and getting Stage points in both Stages, but it wasn’t enough. It was Noah Gragson who was the top Blue Oval finisher with a strong P6 finish, one spot ahead of Blaney. Those were the only two in the Top Ten. The Dark Horse is struggling, and this rough spot may continue for a while.

Hamlin won in front of an impressive Dover crowd. Between weather and COVID it had been several years since the Monster Mile had seen crowds like that. Found it interesting the discussions about how “back” the crowds were considering capacity was once 135K and it was filled twice a season. For perspective – a sold out THIS GEN Dover combined with a sold-out Nashville Super Speedway (which got the second Dover date) would still be over 35K short of a single Dover sellout back in the day. And they would do it twice a year with race dates stacked close together. But we’ll take it, hope everyone there had a great fan experience. And it’s the start of a positive trend. We can always hope!

Kaz Grala suffered a scary hit during practice. Glad the car performed, and he was OK. Wonder what kind of numbers the Black Box put up?

Speaking of scary, Ryan Preece’s fire was an attention getter. Another Ford. Another Fire.  

Kyle Larson remains atop of the Regular Season Points Standings despite only having one win. We still have a long way to go and he’s running strong enough to break loose with multiple wins at any time, but his Regular Season is shaping up like that Matt Kenseth’s 2003 Championship Season-an early win, followed by outpointing your competitors in the remaining races. Currently, with P6 on back now a race or more behind the season is eerily similar to how Kenseth’s season played out. It will be fun to watch until he finally breaks loose.

Glad to see the scoring pylon remains at the Monster Mile. Wonder if Miles guarding it had anything to do with that?

The two main post-race topics seemed to be Aero Blocking by Hamlin and the quality of the FOX broadcast.  Larson was able to run down Hamlin in the closing laps but was unable to complete the pass because Hamlin was disrupting the air, thus preventing his car from getting proper downforce. Disrupting the air to make it more difficult for a trailing driver to pass is not new. What is new is the way this car disrupts the air, which prevents the trailing car to get close enough to make a pass. Another thing new is the growing frustration for drivers and fans alike after being told this car was going to minimize that. Looks like there is still a way to go before those claims are fulfilled.

As far as the FOX broadcast, I’m not sure what you can say other than it is what it is. With the TV deal signed I’m not sure what incentive there is to try to improve the coverage this season. Hoping NASCAR’s hiring of John Dahl from ESPN last month will provide some much-needed input to improve the most important method of delivery of the NASCAR Product. Experienced viewers have learned to tolerate this product.  I’m concerned, and I think NASCAR would be as well, is whether today’s coverage is good enough to keep the new fans, especially those NETFLIX fans, engaged. With what I’m viewing the last few weeks and from the comments shared, I have my doubts. It would be a shame to lose that momentum.  

Another race-another Hendrick Motorsports or Joe Gibbs Racing win? Nine of eleven so far this season. If they come away with a 10th, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

Maybe Kansas can throw a curve ball or at least create some excitement? In 2023, it did produce 12 RLCs, the most in the regular season races at tracks not named Daytona, Talladega, or Atlanta. Martin Truex, Jr. had the most RLCs of the six drivers who were able to pass for the lead, with 4 RLCs. He was followed by teammate Denny Hamlin with 3 and then Ross Chastain, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick who each had 1 apiece.

Denny Hamlin, and Martin Truex Jr. race during the NASCAR Cup Series Advent Health 400 at Kansas Speedway on May 07, 2023 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Hopefully, returning to an intermediate track will suit the Gen 7 and we’ll see some exciting competition.

Tune in and find out.

Thunder On… and Stay Safe!

David Nance

Photo Credit (cover):  James Gilbert/Getty Images


  1. Interesting article. Thanks, David!
    Although not a Denny fan, I must say he is still doing what he always has. He normally has a good car and he handles it well – most of the time. Sometimes, I do wish he had more respect for his fellow competitors. I feel no matter the situation, he always blames someone else for his mishaps. Perhaps I am just biased?? At any rate, the championship will probably avoid him again. Just have to wait and see.
    I love your stats, as usual. You do such a great job and many of us appreciate that. Thank you. Looking forward to the next one!

    1. Thanks Vivian. Sorry I’ve gotten behind again. Hope you all are doing well.

      Denny is Denny. I thought he was a lock this year but heard some comments during the All-Star Race that makes me think there may be some minute cracks forming. It’s going to be interesting to watch!

      On to Charlotte. With a flicker of Hope out of the Fords I’m starting to perk up. Just watched long enough to not get hopes too high.

      Take care!

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