Hamlin Finishes 24th After Late Race Crash at Daytona
Denny Hamlin finished 24th in Saturday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway in the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, after being slammed into the side by another car and spinning through the infield grass with two laps to go in the race won by Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Hamlin started 18th and was running 24th prior to his first pit stop. During the stop, the right rear tire changer encountered a problem and Hamlin left the pits with only one lug nut attached the right rear. Hamlin was forced to return to the pits, dropping him deep in the field. The unfortunate incident changed the teams pit strategy and prior to the end of Stage 1 allowed the team to pit before the end of segment. The strategy paid off and the FedEx car took the lead shortly after the start of Stage 2. Hamlin would eventually lead the race three times for a total of 16 laps.
As the laps wore down, and after a flurry of cautions, Hamlin, the 2016 Daytona 500 Champion, lined up 11th for a restart with three laps to go. As the field raced off Turn 2, Erik Jones spun directly in front of the FedEx Toyota. The spinning Jones unsettled the cars around the #11 and Hamlin lost control after a car slammed into his passenger side, forcing him to the infield grass, damaging the car beyond repair in the process.
“It was a kind of an up and down night for us tonight,” said Hamlin. “We had a problem early on that we bounced back from and led some laps. I thought we were going to have a shot there towards the end, but things got really tight after the restart and the next thing I knew I was spinning in the grass.”
Hamlin's finish keeps the #11 team ninth in the current NASCAR standings. The Series returns to action next Saturday, July 8th at Kentucky Motor Speedway.