RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Chesterfield native Denny Hamlin has four career wins at the Richmond Raceway under his belt, including one he grabbed earlier this season in April. The NASCAR Cup Series returns this weekend, and Hamlin is looking for success again.
“It’s always exciting to go to Richmond, I am never short of any motivation when we go there. It’s just a track I feel comfortable at,” Hamlin said. “I know what I need to feel in the race car to make it a race-winning car. Our cars are fast right now, so there is a lot of reason for optimism on my side of the table.”
Before Hamlin became a NASCAR success story, he grew up in Chesterfield, Virginia, watching the legends that came before him battle it out on the Richmond Raceway.
“Before I even got there and ran laps, I was always a race fan. So, I was on the other side of that fence watching some of the best drivers run around that racetrack. But, you know, in my day, it was Rusty Wallace who was the big dominator,” Hamlin said.
Hamlin used to watch Rusty Wallace and Jeff Gordon go head to head when he was a little kid, and now he has his own battles to conquer, racing in the No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry. So far this season, Hamlin has two Cup Series wins, and said Richmond’s track is one he looks forward to every time.
“That’s why I have the confidence that I do when I go there. It’s a track that fits my driving style, it’s got a lot of tire-ware, so you have to keep your equipment in check, not overdrive. I’m not typically a guy that overdrives it anyway, so it just fits the mold of how I was brought up,” Hamlin said.
With three races left in the regular season, Hamlin has already punched his ticket to the playoffs by winning two Cup Series in Richmond and Charlotte, North Carolina.
“I feel like I should have five,” said Hamlin. “I feel that is the number we should have, maybe six.”
Playoffs being right around the corner is making every race a ‘must-win,’ not only for Hamlin, but every for NASCAR driver. Richmond Raceway President Lori Collier Waran is excited about the competition and looking ahead to this weekend.
“We have a lot of racers that are eager to make their mark and to be a part of the playoffs. So I think the upcoming race will be very interesting,” said Collier Waran. “Anytime you have somebody local, that gives you a connection, that gives you something to tie into, and Denny is a champion in any sense of the word, right?”
Although Hamlin is excited to return home to Chesterfield, he is adamant about keeping his eye on the prize.
“Nothing really changes when I go there. It is just kind of another race on the schedule, just a little bit more important to me emotionally,” said Hamlin.
The NASCAR Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 begins at 3 p.m. on Sunday, August 14th. Read more about our race coverage here.