Hamlin Rallies for a Top-10 Finish at Phoenix
Denny Hamlin finished 10th in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway, charging to the front of the pack from the rear of the field in the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota on two separate occasions during the 312-mile event. His 10th-place finish marked his second top-10 of the 2017 season.
Hamlin battled his way into the top-10 during the first 170 laps of the 312-lap feature, when a flat right-rear tire forced him into the pits during a caution on lap 206 brought out by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth. The unscheduled pit stop relegated him to 29th-place, where he would have to fight through the field for a second time to regain his lost positions. Hamlin spent the remainder of the race picking off his competitors one by one to ultimately find his way back to 10th.
“It’s obviously not a bad day when you can earn a top-10 finish, especially after all the challenges we faced this weekend, but I know our #11 FedEx Freight Toyota had the speed for a better finish,” said Hamlin, the 2012 Phoenix spring race winner. “We’ll take what we learned this weekend with us to keep going after our spot up front.”
Hamlin qualified 19th for Sunday’s race, but he was forced to start at the tail end of the field after his team found a small hole in the right-rear tire Friday during their qualifying session. Per NASCAR, a driver must start a race on their qualifying tires, so the tire change warranted the last-place starting position.
A caution on lap 308 triggered a green-white-checkered finish, and Ryan Newman held off Kyle Larson to capture the win.
Hamlin’s finish at Phoenix moves him up to 14th in the overall NASCAR standings. The Series returns to action next Sunday, March 26, at Auto Club Speedway.