Denny Hamlin and Mike Wheeler will go separate ways in 2019 after 13 years of working together in NASCAR
In 2006, Denny Hamlin was set to begin his first season as a full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver. In his very first race, he went to victory lane. That race was the Sprint Unlimited event at Daytona International Speedway and the first NASCAR race with the pairing of crew chief Mike Wheeler.
Denny Hamlin is now at the tail end of his 13th season in the NASCAR Cup Series. For the duration of that, he’s had Wheeler sitting on the pit box.
Ahead of qualifying at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Hamlin hinted that he and Wheeler will go separate directions in 2019. Hamlin went on to set the pole and finish 12th in the event.
Homestead-Miami Speedway was the last race with the pairing. For 2019, Denny Hamlin will have a new crew chief.
Denny Hamlin on Mike Wheeler
“Winning my first race with him, was awesome. It would be awesome to cap it off with the end,” Hamlin stated ahead of the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“He’s someone that had been working with me since 2004. He was a guy that was always working his way up the ladder within JGR. The spot was always his.”
“But, it’s a big performance business. If you compare us to other drivers that people think are having a great season. We’re actually having a better season.”
“A change is going to be made. That’s all I can really say about it.”
Hamlin on his 2018 season
Wins mean everything in NASCAR. Hamlin has won a race in every year of his full-time career. Yet, with six podium finishes, Hamlin went winless in 2018.
“The bad part is, we had a rough summer. A rough start to the playoffs. But, then we started turning it up again. It’s frustrating. But, I understand it’s a business.”
“We’ve had a few shots here lately. You know, I sat behind Kyle for way too long at Martinsville or else I would have won that race.”