Denny Hamlin watches the action on pit road during qualifying for the 2023 Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway ; Junior Johnson during the 1985 Winston Western 500 at California Speedway
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Denny Hamlin Is One Win Away From Tying Junior Johnson's Unfortunate Record

Denny Hamlin is one of the most accomplished drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series right now, with only two other active full-time drivers ahead of him on the all-time winners list. However, he is nearing a record that no driver wants to have.

His 49 career victories in the Cup Series are obviously nothing to be ashamed of, with three of those wins coming in the Daytona 500. His win in the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway on May 7 not only tied him with Tony Stewart but also snapped a 33-race winless streak for the driver of the No. 11 for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Hamlin's next win will not only put him at 50 in his Cup career but will also tie a record with one other driver who got to the 50-win mark — and did so without a championship. It's an unwanted record at that. Junior Johnson may have won 50 races in his racing career, but he never hoisted the Cup championship trophy. Hamlin is very close to joining the 50-win no-championship club.

Many already considered Hamlin as being the winningest driver without a championship when he caught and passed Mark Martin's 40th and 41st wins in 2020. That is primarily due to the fact that Johnson never actually raced a full-time season in his historic NASCAR career.

Therefore, Johnson was never really in contention for the championship. But Martin and Hamlin have been, having had runner-up finishes for championships on a number of occasions. Nineteen drivers have more wins than Martin, with Johnson and Hamlin being the only two drivers without a championship.

Johnson and Martin are both in the Hall of Fame. So doesn't that already mean Hamlin has had a Hall of Fame-worthy career whether or not he gets that elusive championship?

Denny would probably say a big win total is better than a championship at this point. He's won everything but a title. What more does he need to accomplish? Hamlin has some years left, so who knows? Maybe this season will finally be the one when he breaks through.

MORE: Denny Hamlin's Kansas Win Could Propel Him to His Best Season Finish