On Sunday afternoon Denny Hamlin will become the seventh active driver to record his 500th Career start, and with a fast car as he earned the pole position for the Drydene 400.
His first start was the 2005 Banquet 400 at Kansas Motor speedway. Mark Martin won that day, while Hamlin brought it home 32nd. In the following 498 starts Hamlin has 35 wins, 156 top fives, and 253 top tens. In his first full season, 2006, the young driver managed multiple victories and a third place points finish. Hamlin has made the playoffs every year in his career with the exception of 2013 where he missed four races due to a back injury.
Of those seven active drivers Hamlin, 38, is the second youngest behind Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch. He is also fourth among active drivers in wins with 35, last year was the first winless season of his career, but four wins in 2019 has helped make up for that.
It’s not quite the 500 starts that is impressive about his career, but the amount of consistent success Hamlin has produced for over a decade against some of the sports most talented drivers of all time. In his tenure Hamlin has been successful enough to driver for the same team with the same sponsor his entire career thus far. Not many drivers can say that, but it’s been an honor to watch the Virginian native wheel the number eleven Fedex car for the last fourteen years.
Hopefully in the coming years Hamlin can deliver that elusive championship he has been so close to many times in his career.