Hamlin, FedEx Racing Finish Third in Daytona 500
Denny Hamlin finished third in Sunday’s Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, overcoming a pit road speeding penalty and avoiding a number of multi-car wrecks to position himself and the #11 FedEx Express Toyota for a shot at the 2018 ‘Daytona 500 Champion’ title.
Hamlin grabbed a hold of the lead with only two laps remaining in the 200-lap event, but a caution simultaneously appeared for a single-car incident, forcing the field to an overtime restart. Hamlin lined up first in line for the green-white-checkered finish and fought to maintain his lead, but he was challenged by a hard-charging outside line who was able to overtake the top spot. Hamlin crossed the finish line third to secure his first top-five finish of the 2018 season.
“I’m definitely disappointed after leading on the last restart, but in the end like that, it’s just a 50-50 shot,” said Hamlin, the 2016 Daytona 500 Champion. “It’s about what line can stay organized and work the best, and we just didn’t have that at the end. I’m proud of our whole FedEx Camry team for giving me a car that we were able to battle back, lead laps and give ourselves a chance.”
Hamlin started the 500-mile event in second on the front row of the field, taking an immediate lead and showing the way for the race’s first 10 laps before the first caution flag of the event waved. He led the leaders down pit road during the caution to refresh the #11 FedEx Express Toyota with fuel, but received a one-lap penalty hold for pitting outside of his pit box after overshooting the stall.
The penalty relegated Hamlin to 39th place, but he maintained his position and received the “free pass” to begin the second 60-lap Stage on the lead lap. From there, consistent lap times and swift pit stops by the #11 FedEx Racing team put Hamlin back into contention for the win in the race’s closing laps.
Hamlin led a total of 22 laps during tonight’s 200-lap event, triggering a $2,442 donation to Safe Kids Worldwide through the Delivering Laps for FedEx Cares program that is back for the 2018 season. Plus, new for this year, the Denny Hamlin Foundation will match the total donation. In the program’s inaugural season in 2017, FedEx donated more than $100,000 to Safe Kids.
With ‘Speedweeks’ in the rearview mirror, Hamlin sits seventh in the current Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings.
The Series returns to action next Sunday, February 25, at Atlanta Motor Speedway.