Denny Hamlin has been the most consistent racer across the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series. While he may be currently winless, he still is the current points leader.
Hamlin has managed 11 top five and 15 top ten finishes this season, which includes a streak of six races in which he finished in fourth place or better.
Despite his success on a week-to-week basis, every other Joe Gibbs Racing teammate has come up with a win this season except Hamlin. This gives him even more pressure to come up with top results, especially as the playoff field narrows further with each new winner.
However, despite the struggles to finish first, Hamlin has two finishes this season outside the top 20. That stat is huge in showing that you don’t have to win a race to be successful in the NASCAR Cup Series.
In the playoffs, can Hamlin manage to overcome his win drought to be a contender for the championship final four?
He will likely manage a win at some point in the playoffs, but Hamlin has struggled with consistency when it matters most and it has plagued his career up to this point.
In both 2019 and 2020, Hamlin won a combined 13 races; the most he has ever won in a two-year span. To continue that kind of dominant winning form would’ve been difficult, even for the best NASCAR drivers to replicate.
A NASCAR driver has never won a championship without winning a race in the Cup series, and with the current playoff structure, it makes that feat almost impossible.
In 2019, Matt Crafton defied the odds and the playoff system in the NASCAR Truck Series and came away champion despite never winning a race.
If there would ever be a time that the NASCAR Champion never won a race in the current playoff format, Hamlin may be up for that challenge.
Hamlin will almost certainly end his winless drought either before or in the playoffs (reminiscent of Kyle Busch last season) and will finally get that burden off his shoulders.
The 2021 NASCAR Championship will be tightly contested and Hamlin will have to step up and shine through all adversity to become champion. He has proven in recent years he can be dominant and this year he has proven consistency.