Hamlin Finishes 23rd After Incident in Closing Laps
Denny Hamlin was forced to a 23rd-place finish at Kansas Speedway after being involved in a wreck with only three laps remaining in Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at the 1.5-mile oval. The #11 FedEx Freight Toyota sustained damage to the right front during the incident, forcing Hamlin to pit for repairs right before a green-white-checkered finish under the lights.
Hamlin started sixth and found his groove within the top-10 for the majority of Saturday’s 267-lap event prior to the incident on lap 264 that found Hamlin squeezed in between competitors Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson who were vying for fifth place.
Between gaining multiple positions on pit road following swift pit stops by the #11 FedEx crew and staying consistent on-track during green-flag runs, Hamlin was able to pick up 22 additional Championship points during the first two 80-lap stages, racing to an eighth- and sixth-place finish during Stage 1 and Stage 2 respectively. Even after a left-rear tire rub was discovered at the conclusion of Stage 2, Hamlin continued to steadily maneuver his way to the front of the field.
“This is obviously not the way we wanted tonight to end,” said Hamlin, winner of the 2012 spring race at Kanas. “While I was definitely fighting a loose car on the restarts, I was pretty happy with the overall balance of our #11 FedEx Toyota during green-flag runs. We were capable of pulling off a solid finish, but that was just hard racing there at the end, and unfortunately there was nothing we could do to avoid it. No matter what though, I can’t say enough about how well our pit crew performed today. They were able to help put me in a great position on track, and that’s always important to our performance. Our whole team learned a lot this weekend that we’ll definitely be able to apply to our strategy moving forward.”
After today’s finish at Kansas, Denny dropped one position to 12th in the overall NASCAR standings, 186 points behind leader Kyle Larson.
The Series will head back to North Carolina for the Monster Energy All-Star Race on Saturday, May 20th.