CREW CHIEF: Mike Wheeler (new for 2016, replaces Dave Rogers)
TEAM: Joe Gibbs Racing
TOP 5s: 14
TOP 10s: 20
LAPS LED: 529
WHAT WENT RIGHT: Hamlin had his usual strong, consistent season. Plus, his two wins were the most he’s had in a season since five in 2012. … He raced a good part of the season with a torn ACL, but it didn’t seem to affect him, particularly with his win at Chicagoland to kick off the Chase for the Sprint Cup. … His 20 top-10 finishes were the most since 20 in 2009.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Hamlin made it to the Championship 4 round of the Chase in 2014, but came up short this season, unable to get past Round 2. That, even though he had much greater overall stats in 2015 than 2014. … Hamlin’s former crew chief, Dave Rogers, has been shifted to Carl Edwards‘ team for 2016, replacing Darian Grubb. Replacing Rogers on the No. 11 team was Mike Wheeler, who had been crew chief on JGR’s No. 20 Xfinity Series car in 2015. … Hamlin at times seemed to struggle for no apparent reason. When he was on, he was on, but when he was off, he was way off.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2016: Which Denny Hamlin will show up in 2016? The guy who made the final round of the Chase in 2014, the guy who had better stats but failed to get past the second round in 2015, or the guy picked up a few pointers from teammate Kyle Busch and who could win it all for the first time in his Sprint Cup career? … How quickly Hamlin and Wheeler gel could determine just how successful the No. 11 is in 2016.