TALLADEGA, Ala. — Denny Hamlin was shocked that Mike Ford, his crew chief through the end of last season, didn’t land a new job after being released from Joe Gibbs Racing last year.
Now that Ford has signed on with Richard Petty Motorsports, however, Hamlin expects his former pit boss to advance the career of driver Aric Almirola.
“Waiting for the right opportunity, and given the right opportunity, he can be very, very successful,” Hamlin said. “He, in my opinion, is one of the top five crew chiefs in this garage. I think he is the reason we won so many races when we were together.”
All told, Hamlin won 17 Cup races with Ford, starting with a pair of victories in his rookie season in 2006. Hamlin has won at least one race each year since then.
This season Hamlin already has two wins with new crew chief Darian Grubb calling the shots in his pit.