Denny Hamlin wouldn’t mind at all if history repeated itself during Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway.
Hamlin won the Advance Auto Parts Clash, and eight days later, the driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota followed up with his first Daytona 500 victory, a breathtaking affair that saw Hamlin beat fellow Camry driver Martin Truex Jr. to the finish line by .010 seconds, a margin of roughly six inches.
Hamlin is well aware that winning The Great American Race back-to-back is one of the toughest feats in motorsports, so tough that only three drivers have accomplished the feat: Richard Petty (1973-1974), Cale Yarborough (1983-1984) and Sterling Marlin (1994-1995).
Hamlin also knows that ganging up with his Toyota teammates may not be as easy as it was last year, when Camry drivers dominated the event and swept the three podium positions.
“It was very important that we set out a goal – really an objective – to work together and really do everything we could to remain in a pack,” Hamlin said on Friday, taking questions from reporters in front of a “show” version of his Daytona 500-winning car. “It worked out phenomenally.
“But since then, everyone has seen that, and it’s going to be very hard to replicate anything like that ever again. Now that the competition’s seen it, it’s going to be hard to do. But you’ve just got to come up with a new plan, something they haven’t seen before.”