As Denny Hamlin Preps for Daytona 500 Three-Peat, Don’t Call Him Dennis

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Denny Hamlin seeks his third straight Daytona 500.

Denny Hamlin is looking to make history Sunday by winning his third straight Daytona 500. James Dennis Alan ‘Denny’ Hamlin would be the first-ever to string together three straight Daytona 500 victories. While motorsports fans will be cheering on the man with several names, they should just make sure they don’t call him Dennis.

Denny Hamlin going for a three-peat

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Denny Hamlin seeks a three-peat. He’s gunning for his third straight Daytona 500 and fourth overall. Not only has Hamlin won the last two races that kick off the NASCAR season, but he also won it in 2016. All eyes will be on Hamlin, but he welcomes the challenge. Hamlin said a three-peat would be awfully special.

“Anytime you can do something that no one else has done, it’s going to be your biggest victory,” Hamlin said on The Dan Patrick Show. “So certainly for me, I think it would be the biggest win that myself and the FedEx team’s ever had, to win three in a row in what I deem as one of the hardest races to win.”

A victory Sunday would give Hamlin four Daytona 500 titles. That would tie him with Cale Yarborough for second place. Hamlin would still need three more victories just to tie Richard Petty, who has seven. He enters as the only driver Sunday with more than one Daytona 500 wins.

Hamlin said he wants to hang around and ‘play the game’

Denny Hamlin’s goal is to survive the early part of the Daytona 500. He’s hoping to hang in there and make a push at the end. “Ultimately, it is a skill game,” Hamlin said in a Daytona press release this week, according to CBS Sports. “(The 500) is won with the mind. I just want to be there with five to go, and then play the game.” 

Hamlin said there really is no safe place to be during the race to avoid the crashes. He even brought out some analytics. “Statistically speaking, position 2.7 is the most likely to wreck,” Hamlin said on The Dan Patrick Show. ‘So the wrecks actually start in the front. There’s really no safe place that you can be unless you want to be just dead last and behind the pack totally.

“I’ve won this in different ways, either staying up front or being in the back. Sometimes I’ve been in the middle and somehow avoided (the wrecks). Certainly, we’ve defied odds. I always say this. Speedway racing, where you have a pack, it is a skill game, but sometimes you get unlucky. If you don’t cause the wreck, you can get in it. Usually, in other sports, when your competition makes mistakes, you capitalize. In this type of sport, if your competition makes a mistake, you’re liable to be in it.”

Hamlin’s real name is James, but don’t call him Dennis

Denny Hamlin’s real name is James. The full name is James Dennis Alan Hamlin. Dan Patrick asked why he’s not called James. Hamlin said he honestly had no answer.

“It’s interesting. I never know why James was never just my name,” Hamlin said. “I mean that’s what my real name is. JD, I could’ve went with that. My mom always used to call me Little Denny. My dad was Dennis and he was Big Denny and I was Little Denny. That’s kind of how I always understood and answered to was Denny.”

Patrick asked if anyone ever referred to him as Dennis. “No. I mean, not really,” Hamlin laughed. “Unless they wanted to throw out Dennis the Menace or something like that. When I was a kid, I got a little bit of that but…” Patrick responded with, “It’s still there. Still bothers you, huh?”

“Might be a little touchy,” said Hamlin.