In last year's Kroger 200 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, home-state hero Denny Hamlin drove Kyle Busch Motorsports' (KBM) No. 18 Tundra to his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory. With the monumental win, Hamlin became the 23rd driver in NASCAR history to win at least one race in each of its top three divisions in his career, and just the fourth to accomplish the feat in the same season.
The 32-year-old driver returns to 'The Paperclip' for this year's 200-lap event, and although he is once again driving for KBM, he'll be behind the wheel of the team's second entry - the No. 51 Toyota Tundra - and he'll have a different chassis - #134 - underneath him. Hamlin has finished in the top-five in each of his three starts for his Joe Gibb's Racing teammate's Truck Series team the last two seasons, including a fifth-place finish earlier this year in the Pocono Mountains 125 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.
The best recipe for success at a short track is to start up front and stay out front, and that is exactly what Hamlin has been able to accomplish on a regular basis at Martinsville. He has started inside the top five in four of his five Truck Series starts and led 60 or more laps in each of his last three. The Virginia native has produced one Truck Series win and three top-10 finishes. He has started inside the top five in half of his 14 career starts in the Sprint Cup Series and has led 30 or more laps nine times. The four-time winner in NASCAR's premier division has also captured two poles and collected nine top-five and 12 top-10 finishes.
While the truck number and the faces surrounding the five-time winner at the .526-mile oval may be different this weekend, Hamlin's goal remains the same - start up front, stay out front and end the day in victory lane.