Talladega – Post Race Report
Hamlin, FedEx Freight Toyota run strong but finish 38th after blown engine
Qualifying for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega was rained out on Friday with starting positions determined by Thursday's first practice speeds. Denny Hamlin was 15th fastest in that session to grid on the eighth row, but disappointed at time trials being cancelled.
"I was really looking forward to qualifying because the FedEx Toyota was really good in both practice sessions," he said. "Talladega is always an exciting race and I hope we get the chance to show everyone just how good this car and team really are."
From the moment the green flag dropped Denny and the #11 FedEx Toyota Camry raced in the lead pack, staying in the top 20 as the rest of the field jockeyed for position on the fast 2.66-mile high-banked oval. By the time he made his first green flag pit stop on lap 41 he had moved up to seventh, with Crew Chief Darian Grubb calling for four tires, fuel and a slight wedge adjustment. After everyone else cycled through Denny was up to third and looking for the lead.
On lap 52 Denny was shuffled out of line and fell back to 14th but came back to run third again by lap 65. A caution came out on lap 77 with Denny reporting a problem with the car's steering. After checking the steering system and taking four tires and fuel, Hamlin restarted 22nd.
By lap 94 of 188 Denny had moved to 15th and was back in the top 10 by lap 115. He was eighth when he came down pit road for another green flag stop on lap 122, pitting for fuel, four tires and a right rear wedge adjustment to tighten up the car in the corners. Returning to the race in 13th, Hamlin was up to eighth and running strong in the lead pack but engine failure on lap 142 ended the FedEx team's day.
Jamie McMurray won the race with Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch fifth and Matt Kenseth 20th.
"We were having a good race until we lost the motor," said Hamlin. "The car felt good in the pack and I was looking forward to the last few laps because that's when we were going to go for it. My FedEx Freight crew did a great job in the pits and Darian made all the right calls, it was just one of those things. But we'll get 'em next week".
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to action on Sunday, October 27th at Martinsville Speedway, where Denny Hamlin is a four-time winner.