Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota hasn’t had the speed this season to match the Stewart-Haas Racing Fords, but Hamlin expects that to change as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup season winds toward the Playoffs.
It’s not that Hamlin hasn’t been consistently fast this year. After all, he has six top-five finishes in 15 races and currently is eighth in the series standings. But Hamlin hasn’t had the race-winning speed to match the Stewart-Haas cars – or teammate Kyle Busch, for that matter.
“I think, at worst any weekend, we’ve been an eighth-place car and at best, we’ve been a second-or-third-place car,” said Hamlin, who was second fastest to Stewart-Haas driver Kurt Busch in Friday’s final practice at Sonoma Raceway. “Certainly, the results I don’t think show the speed we actually do have.
“I’m pretty confident the second half of the year we’re going to be pretty strong. I feel like we’ve really made gains over the last month or so. I’d like to get inside the top five in points before the end of the regular season and win a couple races – that’s a goal that we have that is achievable in the next 10 weeks or so.