Dover Cup: Denny Hamlin Defeats Kyle Larson

After predicting on his podcast that he would win, Denny Hamlin made good on his audacious claim that would have made the Bambino proud. He held off Kyle Larson in the final stretch to park his Toyota in victory lane.

In a race featuring two of NASCAR’s best drivers, Hamlin squeezed by lapped traffic and never let Larson to pass him in the closing laps. On Sunday at Dover Motor Speedway, he won the Cup race by almost a quarter of a second.

“You better win if you’re going to open your mouth, that’s for sure,” remarked Hamlin.

This season, Hamlin has mastered the victory lane celebration. In his capacity as co-owner of 23XI Racing, he rejoiced last week at Talladega Superspeedway when Tyler Reddick won the race. Hamlin’s participation was somewhat eclipsed by Michael Jordan, the other club owner. To witness firsthand a victory by one of his drivers for the first time since he became the owner of a NASCAR Cup team.

This week, Hamlin had his moment in the limelight at Dover thanks to the Monster trophy he won while racing for Joe Gibbs Racing.

“It is a little bit different when you win it yourself versus as a car owner,” Hamlin stated.

Hamlin anticipated winning. Or at least, he was prepared to admit it in public. He even called it his shot, mentioning Babe Ruth in the podcast, that he would become an expert at the Monster Mile.

“I’m going to call it now. We’re going to win Dover,”  “Actions Detrimental,” Hamlin declared,  “Got it?

“Hopefully some listeners of ‘Actions Detrimental’ maybe cashed in today,” stated Hamlin.

For the second time in his career, Hamlin won at Dover, having led 136 of the 400 laps.

The Babe, who played for the New York Yankees and wore No. 3, may have done so appropriately since Hamlin and the other members of his No. 11 team celebrated the team’s third victory of the year by flashing three fingers.

With three victories this season, Hamlin and William Byron are tied for most in the series. Along with the victory, Hamlin achieved his 54th career Cup win, all with Joe Gibbs Racing. On the career Cup list, he and Lee Petty are tied for 12th place.

Hamlin remarked, “I couldn’t hold Lee Petty’s helmet.”

When Hamlin won the Clash at the Coliseum exhibition race, it also set the tone for the entire season.

After finishing in second place, Larson appeared to be close to overtaking the Toyota as he raced hard at Hamlin’s bumper for the majority of the last 25 laps. At the mile concrete track, Larson’s No. 5 Chevrolet was simply unable to seal the deal. With 81 laps remaining, Hamlin took the lead on a restart and never gave it up, repeatedly stifling Larson’s Chevy near the top of the circuit.

Larson stated, “I just couldn’t really do anything,” “Nothing could generate enough speed to get close enough to do anything.”

Because of the surprisingly filled grandstands, Hamlin was met with more boos than normal as he grabbed the checkered flag.

The sun came out on Sunday, and the spectators followed suit after rainouts forced Monday races the previous two years. The grandstands were nearly full, and the track was almost at capacity with 54,000 people. The audience at Dover was undoubtedly the greatest since before the pandemic, despite the fact that NASCAR circuits do not provide attendance figures.