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Denny Hamlin evaluates Noah Gragson's chances at Daytona, 2024 NASCAR season

Stephen Samraby:Steve Samra02/13/24

SamraSource

Noah Gragson
Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Denny Hamlin took some time to predict where certain drivers will finish the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season, and one of the drivers he focused on was Noah Gragson.

Gragson is returning to the Cup Series after a rough exit from Legacy Motor Club last season, driving the No. 10 for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2024. It’s an opportunity that Gragson is valuing, and he’s hoping to prove his doubters wrong this season.

On the latest episode of his Actions Detrimental podcast, Hamlin evaluated Gragson’s over/under for where he could finish in the point standings, setting it at 22. Evidently, it’s something that the Joe Gibbs Racing wheelman has gone back and forth on.

“I just don’t know what to make of Noah, because I know he’s worked really, really hard. He’s super motivated,” Hamlin explained. “It’s a lot of like, what does Stewart-Haas do this year? I think, do they have a resurgence? Do they stay the same? I don’t think they get worse.

“I’m looking at the drivers he’ll probably have to leapfrog. It’s tough, but I’ll probably say worse. But it’s close. It’s close.”

So Hamlin won’t go with the over just yet on Gragson’s season. Still, he’s not counting him out in 2024, especially during the Daytona 500 this weekend, where anything can and usually does happen.

“I mean, he could win the Daytona 500. I mean, realistically speaking, nothing is a shock in the 500 anymore,” Hamlin added. “I mean, the last few winners we’ve had have been [Michael] McDowell, [Austin] Cindric and [Ricky] Stenhouse. So you just never know. … But I just don’t know. It would not surprise me if Noah goes out there and contends for a playoff spot. It also would not shock me in the world if he’s in the low 20s. So I’m not sure.

“I think it’s just kind of dependent on the organization, and whether they take the step, which I think with the new car, they probably should, or would.”

Evidently, Hamlin believes Gragson has the talent to contend for a playoff spot in 2024, but it’s going to depend on how Stewart-Haas rebounds from a rough season in 2023. With a younger driver lineup and even a refreshed logo, perhaps the team could surprise this season.

We’ll see if Denny Hamlin is right about Noah Gragson falling below P22 in the NASCAR standings, or if the driver of the No. 10 Ford will turn some heads this season. Time will tell, but Gragson’s talent is there. He just has to put it all together.