Denny Hamlin 2018 Fantasy NASCAR Racing
Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway

Strengths – Denny Hamlin is one of the most well-rounded drivers in NASCAR. There’s really no bad track type for him. He’s capable of winning on any given Sunday. In 2018 I would look for Hamlin to be at his best at short tracks and flat tracks.

Weaknesses – I wouldn’t call it a weakness, but I would like to see Hamlin be a little more competitive at 1.5 mile tracks. Those tracks comprise nearly a third of the schedule and he hasn’t won at them since Chicagoland in 2015,  and that was “fluky” with how the end of the race played out. His next most recent win at a 1.5 mile track was in 2013.

Track Type Fantasy Value Key = Elite > High > Medium-High > Medium > Low 

Intermediate Track Fantasy Value – High

Denny Hamlin is a strong intermediate track performer. Performance wise on this track type when things are clicking he’s one of the best. In 2018 I’m rating his fantasy value as a “High-High”, who’s just short of elite. This upcoming season on this track type I would look for him to compete for a top ten every race and come home with a good amount of top fives.

Last year on this track type Hamlin scored the 6th most points, finished in the top five 47% percent of the time, in the top ten 65% percent of the time, had a 9.9 average running position and a 12.0 average finish. In the two prior seasons on this track type he scored the 12th and 10th most points.

In 2017 on this track type Hamlin ended the season on a strong note. From Darlington until the conclusion of the season minus Dover where his axle broke, Hamlin had a 4.3 average finish.

Flat Track Fantasy Value – Elite

On a year to year basis Denny Hamlin ranks as one of the best flat track drivers. Last year on this track type he scored the 7th most points. In the two prior seasons on this track type he scored the 4th and 7th most points.

Denny Hamlin is a good option at both the bigger flats and the smaller flats. Personally, I like him more at the smaller venues. My long running fantasy mantra for him is, “If it’s short or flat pick Hamlin.” Last year at shorter flat tracks Hamlin won at New Hampshire and had a 6.2 average finish minus the fall Phoenix race where he was top 5 good but wrecked. At shorter flat tracks Hamlin is one of the best default picks you can make.

At the big flat tracks last year Hamlin ranked as the 6th best. At both venues he’s been good. Last year at Indy Hamlin had a minor wreck and finished 17th, in the three prior races he swept the top five. At Pocono Hamlin has been solid. Since 2014 he has a 10.3 average finish and a 10.3 average running position. Last year at the “Tricky Triangle” he had results of 4th and 12th.

Short Track Fantasy Value – Elite

Denny Hamlin is one of the best short track drivers in NASCAR. Last year at these venues minus the spring Martinsville race where he was top ten good but wrecked he had a 5.6 average finish. Even with his problem he still scored the 7th most points on this track type. In the two prior seasons at short tracks he scored the 3rd and 4th most points.

At all three short tracks Hamlin should be viewed as a top five contender heading into the weekend.

Hamlin’s best short track is Martinsville. At that venue he’s a five-time winner who’s finished in the top five 50% percent of the time, and in the top ten 75% percent of the time. Last fall Hamlin was a serious challenger for the win late but finished 7th. In spring 2017 he ran well but had problems.

At Richmond Hamlin has been very strong. He’s a recent winner who has five straight top 6 results. Last year he finished 3rd and 5th. In fall 2016 Hamlin raced his way to victory lane.

At Bristol, Hamlin has finished in the top ten in 4 of the last 5 races. Last year he finished 3rd and 10th.

Restrictor Plate Track Fantasy Value – Elite

Denny Hamlin is one of the best default fantasy picks at plate tracks. Last year on this track type he scored the 6th most points. In the three prior seasons he scored the 4th, 5th and 1st most points. Since 2011 his points ranking for the season has ranked in the top 9 every year except for 2013 (Year he had his injury).

At Daytona Hamlin has finished 17th or worse the last three races, in the five races prior to that he finished in the top 6. In the 2016 Daytona 500, Hamlin led 95 laps and raced his way to victory lane.

At Talladega over the last three races Hamlin has a 6.6 average finish. Last year he had results of 6th and 11th.

In 2018 at plate tracks look for Hamlin to rank as one of the best drivers and challenge for a win.

Road Course Track Fantasy Value – Elite

I don’t know what happened to Denny Hamlin, but he’s become a really good road course racer. Over the last two years on this track type he’s scored the most points and has finished in the top 4 every race. I think it’s clear something is really clicking for him on this track type. In the five seasons prior to the last two his average points ranking was a paltry 27.2.

At Sonoma, Denny Hamlin has been strong recently. Last year he finished 4th, in 2016 he finished 2nd and would’ve won if he didn’t make a self-inflicted mistake when the checkered flag was in sight.

Last year at Watkins Glen, Hamlin finished 4th, in 2016 he raced his way to victory lane.

In 2018 on this track type I would look for Hamlin to run well at all three tracks.

Denny HamlinFantasyRacingCheatSheet.com