DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Denny Hamlin burst onto the scene a decade ago when he showed up at Daytona International Speedway as a rookie and won the first exhibition race of Speedweeks.
Hamlin beat Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon that night, and a story the next day from a newspaper in a city with deep racing roots opened with “Denny Who Did What?”
It was quite the arrival for a cherub-faced short-track racer from Virginia who had clawed his way into a ride with Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin had dreamed of becoming a NASCAR star his entire childhood, and he cheered hero Bill Elliott twice a year from the grandstands at Richmond International Raceway.
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