BUSCH: Las Vegas: Round four preview

Hamlin's first NASCAR Busch Series win a product of perfect "timing" DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 7, 2006) -- The end of last season was hardly a drag for Denny Hamlin (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet), and the start of the new NASCAR Busch...

Hamlin's first NASCAR Busch Series win a product of perfect "timing"

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 7, 2006) -- The end of last season was hardly a drag for Denny Hamlin (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet), and the start of the new NASCAR Busch Series year has continued to show an upward swing for the young driver from Chesterfield, Va.

The 25-year-old Hamlin captured his first NASCAR Busch Series victory this past Sunday in Mexico City at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course.

Four weeks ago, Hamlin -- one of seven drivers running fulltime in both the NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series -- picked up where he left off in the latter stages of last year's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season when he won the Bud Shootout at Daytona International Speedway. He was a starter in that event courtesy of his first national series pole, which was also secured at Phoenix last November. A NASCAR Busch Series rookie last season, Hamlin finished a surprising fifth in the final point standings. His success didn't go unnoticed by his series owner, J.D. Gibbs, who made the call last October to name Hamlin as the driver of the No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet entry in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competition as well as continuing his NASCAR Busch Series duties.

The last seven races of the 2005 season in both series pushed Hamlin's name to the top of the 2006 "drivers-to-watch list." In addition to his second-place start at Phoenix in the NASCAR Busch Series, he ended the year with three top-10 finishes and also posted three top-10 starts.

On the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup side, Hamlin also registered three top-10 finishes and three top-10 starts in seven races.

This year, Hamlin has two top-10 finishes and his first win in NASCAR Busch Series competition, along with a top-five start to his credit on the premier series side.

He finished 12th last year in the NASCAR Busch Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and could be a threat to win his second race in succession considering the way his season ended last year and the quick start he's off to in 2006.

"We have done a good job of starting the season strong, [but] now, the NASCAR Busch Series field is as competitive as ever with at least 10 drivers capable of winning the championship," Hamlin said. "Those other guys are going to be tough to beat. It is a long season and anything can happen, but the championship is extremely important to me and I would love to have that on my resume.

"One year ago I was coming into Daytona really unknown," he said. "I had run one [NASCAR] Busch [Series] race and a lot happened in one year. I made the best of the situation that I was put in and I'm excited about it. I'm living the dream right now."

-nascar

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Denny Hamlin