Hamlin Delivers Top-10 Finish at Dover.
Denny Hamlin finished seventh in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway, capturing his sixth top-10 finish of the 2018 season despite encountering multiple setbacks throughout the 400-lap event won by Kevin Harvick.
During the race’s first Stage, Hamlin took advantage of his long green-flag run speed to climb his way to fourth, however as the 120-lap segment wound down, Crew Chief Mike Wheeler encouraged Hamlin to save fuel since the leaders were closing in on their fuel window. Hamlin heeded Wheeler’s advice and was positioned for a top-five Stage finish, but he ran out of fuel with only three laps remaining and was forced to pit.
The stop ultimately resulted in a penalty since pit road was still closed, and Hamlin was forced to start Stage 2 from the tail-end of longest line (20th). Regardless, Hamlin again used the long-green flag runs to gain track position, and he diligently worked his way to 13th by the Stage 2 conclusion.
As the race’s final Stage commenced, Hamlin found himself looking for any way to break into the top 10. By lap 314, he improved to 11th, but his charge to the front was interrupted when the field was red-flagged for rain with 80 laps to go.
When the race resumed, the #11 FedEx Office Toyota was serviced with four tires and fuel, and the quick work by his FedEx Racing crew positioned Hamlin eighth for the restart. The remaining 75 laps ran caution-free, and Hamlin chased down Ryan Blaney for the seventh-place spot.
"We obviously encountered a couple issues throughout the race that set us back, but a top-10 finish isn’t too bad," said Hamlin. "Our FedEx Toyota was best on the long green-flag runs, we just didn’t have enough time there at the end to catch up to the leaders.”
Following Sunday’s seventh-place finish, Hamlin dropped one spot to eighth in the overall NASCAR standings. The Series returns to action next Saturday, May 12, for a night race at Kansas Speedway.