Why Denny Hamlin will win the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series championship

Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of four stories examining why each driver could win the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series championship.

Tuesday: Kyle Larson
Wednesday: Chase Elliott
Thursday: Martin Truex Jr.
Friday: Denny Hamlin

Denny Hamlin will win the 2021 championship because …

It’s finally time to complete the mission.

After years of the sport’s highest honor eluding him, Hamlin has the potential to put all the pieces together at Phoenix Raceway for his first career NASCAR Cup Series championship. It’s for good reason, too.

While he hasn’t gone on a winning tear this year like he did with six victories in 2019 and seven in 2020, Hamlin has put together the most consistent season of his 17-year career so far. Accompanying his pair of victories this season, which both came in playoff races at Darlington Raceway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Hamlin is on track to earn his best season average finish. He’s currently at 8.6. That is consistency at its finest and Hamlin will finally be able to capitalize on it.

RELATED: Betting odds for Phoenix title race

The final 312 scheduled laps at Phoenix will be tough considering his competition on Sunday, though. Kyle Larson’s nine-win season proves he’ll be fast on Sunday, defending champion Chase Elliott won this race last year to earn his first title and Martin Truex Jr. won at Phoenix in the spring. Hamlin, though, also has a pair of wins at the 1-mile Arizona track, with the last coming in the fall of 2019. The No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, led by trusty crew chief Chris Gabehart, has all the tools and talent at its disposal to come out on top.

On top of the strong average finish this season and past success at Phoenix that back Hamlin up, there’s just a different energy about him this time around. A fire was lit under Hamlin after last Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway following his run-in with Alex Bowman. He carried that heat into Championship 4 Media Day on Thursday in downtown Phoenix, saying he’s taking all the anger and negativity and turning it into positive thoughts. That’s just the right amount of toughness and a sprinkle of crazy that make for a championship mentality.

Let’s leave you with this quote from Hamlin: “I live in chaos. My life is chaos. I thrive under chaos.”

That’s good for him because the Championship 4 season finale in the desert is always … chaotic.

RELATED: Denny Hamlin through the years