Hemlin Stewart 2022
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Analysis: Denny Hamlin chasing Tony Stewart’s Cup Series career win total

In order to capture his final checkered flag at NASCAR’s top level, Tony Stewart literally shoved Denny Hamlin out of his way in the treacherous Turn 11 of Sonoma Raceway’s road course. Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet led the final 22 laps – the only laps it spent out front – and ultimately beat Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota to the finish line by 0.625 seconds. Hamlin, meanwhile, had led twice for a race-high 33 laps, still settling for second.

That race played out on June 26, 2016.

SONOMA: Watch all-time top finishes | GIFs of Turn 11’s turmoil

This Sunday (4 p.m. ET, FS1), Hamlin has the opportunity to tie Stewart at 15th on the all-time wins list at that same track out in California wine country. Stewart, of course, retired in 2016 after 18 full-time seasons and hasn’t competed in a NASCAR race since. Hamlin is in the midst of his 17th full run, so he’s still able to pile on victories.

The two drivers’ career numbers are actually rather similar – and vary on who leads in certain categories. Take a look below.

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RELATED: All-time Sonoma winners | All-time Cup winners

In fewer starts, Hamlin has managed to tally more top-five finishes than Stewart. Hamlin matches Stewart in top 10s but falls short in runner-ups. It’s a mixed bag, yet somehow evens out.

Hamlin has led more laps but is one win short of Stewart. Stewart tallied win No. 48 at 42 years old. Hamlin did so at 41 – earlier this year at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Stewart hit 49 wins at age 45. Hamlin turns 42 in November.

They’ve both had 16 seasons with at least one win, though. They both won Rookie of the Year; Stewart in 1999, Hamlin in 2006.

This is where the two really differ: Stewart won three championships (2002, 2005 and 2011). A title still escapes Hamlin. His best final showing was second in 2010. He has had six top-four finishes in the final standings.

Granted, Hamlin has three Daytona 500s to Stewart’s zero.

And then reverse it again, if getting into specifics. Stewart has three wins at Sonoma. Hamlin, none.

SONOMA: Weekend schedule | Betting odds | Paint schemes

BetMGM lists Hamlin at 14-1 in its opening odds to win Sunday. Hamlin has only ever won on a road course once in his career, Watkins Glen International in 2016. He already owns two wins this year and has therefore already been granted a provisional berth into the 16-driver playoffs, which begin in 11 races. But he still sits 19th in the points standings due to an up-and-down regular season that sees him posting a 20.5 average finish. And points – specifically playoff points earned from winning stages or races – will keep his title chances alive.

Hamlin placed eighth in last year’s event at Sonoma. His best result there, ever: second to Stewart in 2016.