Hamlin Finishes Ninth in the Duel at Daytona.
Denny Hamlin recorded a top-10 finish in Thursday night’s second Daytona Duel qualifying race, crossing the finish line ninth as he attempted to avoid potential damage to his #11 FedEx Express Toyota in the final-lap shuffle of the 60-lap event.
Hamlin held onto his second-place position behind eventual race winner Chase Elliott for 32 consecutive laps until third-place contender Kevin Harvick challenged him for the spot, leaving Hamlin alone on the high side as the draft pack moved passed in the race to the checkered.
“At the end there, I was trying to get out of the way,” said Hamlin, a three-time Duel winner. “Once the No. 4 (Kevin Harvick) pulled out of line, I knew I wasn’t going to do any blocking that late in that race – that’s where wrecks happen. It was best for me to get out of line and let those guys go at it.”
Hamlin led the field to green for the 150-mile Duel under the lights, showing the way up until the race’s first and only caution on lap 13. The team used the break to refresh the #11 machine with fuel, giving Harvick a chance to sneak by Hamlin in the race off of pit road before the following restart.
Throughout the 60-lap event, Hamlin commanded 18 total circuits around the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway.
Regardless of Thursday night’s finish, Hamlin is locked in to his second-place starting spot alongside rookie Alex Bowman for Sunday’s “Great American Race”, the 200-lap marquee event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule.