Fontana – Post Race Report
Final Lap Accident Relegates FedEx Racing Team to 25th-Place Finish in Fontana
Denny Hamlin charged from 17th to second after the final restart with 11 laps remaining in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway and battled for the lead coming to the checkered flag, but contact sent the #11 FedEx Express Toyota spinning into the infield and hard into the inside retaining wall, relegating the team to a 25th-place finish in the event won by Kyle Busch. The impact resulted in a lower back injury for Hamlin, who was airlifted to a local hospital and diagnosed with a compression fracture of a L1 vertebra. He was released on Monday night and returned to his home in the Charlotte area. Hamlin qualified on the pole and ran among the top-10 throughout the majority of the 200-lap race around the two-mile southern California oval. He pitted for four tires during a late-race caution, but a penalty for a missed lug nut brought the #11 machine back in, forcing Hamlin to restart 26th in the running order. After picking off a handful of cars before another caution with 14 laps to go, Hamlin came back down pit road for another set of tires, setting up the 11-lap dash to the finish line. With the fresh rubber, Hamlin used the wide racing surface at Fontana to slice his way through the field to the front. It took just four laps to move into the top-three, and two more to get to the back bumper of race leader Joey Logano. The two jostled for position for the remaining laps before tangling in Turn 4 of Lap 200, allowing Busch by for the victory. The finish dropped Hamlin from sixth to 10th in the NASCAR standings after five of 26 regular season races. NASCAR returns to action at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Sunday, April 7.