Hamlin Finishes Seventh in Overtime at Martinsville
Denny Hamlin finished seventh in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway, overcoming a mid-race pit road speeding penalty and overtime restart to collect his 20th top-10 finish of the 2017 NASCAR season in the #11 FedEx at Walgreens Toyota.
During the final 240-lap Stage of Sunday’s 500-lap race, six cautions appeared which ultimately led to a thrilling dash to the finish as Hamlin and the remaining Playoffs drivers battled for the win and one of four guaranteed spots in the Championship 4.
Hamlin lined up third for a restart with only six laps to go, making a bold move to quickly take over second behind Chase Elliott. Hamlin challenged Elliott for the lead, and as he looked to get the advantage rolling into the corner, the two made contact in Turn 1 sending Elliott spinning up the track.
“We’re trying to get a ticket to Homestead,” said Hamlin, “so there’s a lot on the line. I tried to get to his (Elliott’s) back bumper and slide him up the race track, and I just went too deep. I agree that it’s unfortunate it had to end that way.”
The caution from that incident led to an overtime restart with Hamlin leading the field to the green flag. Despite his best effort to thwart of pressure from his teammate Kyle Busch, Hamlin got loose after a quick bump with (Kyle) Busch, forcing him up the track. It appeared Hamlin would finish fourth, but a heated battled off turn 4 on the final lap got Hamlin loose once again, setting off a chain reaction and a multi-car pileup that had Hamlin sliding to the checkers and relegating him to a seventh-place finish.
Hamlin started Sunday’s event in sixth place after qualifying earlier that day in the #11 FedEx at Walgreens Toyota. He fought a tight-handling race car throughout the race, rallying to finish 10th in Stage 1. After Hamlin’s crew serviced him with four tires and fuel during the Stage break, he was served a pit road penalty for speeding, forcing him to start at the tail end of the line to begin the next 130-lap Stage. In less than 30 laps at the Virginia half-mile, Hamlin gained 10 positions, picking off spots one at a time until he was scored 12th at the Stage 2 end.
Hamlin was driving a special #11 FedEx at Walgreens Toyota this weekend that celebrates FedEx and Walgreens joining together to offer pickup and drop-off at Walgreens locations nationwide. More information can be found at fedex.com/onsite.
Following Sunday’s race, Hamlin drops two positions in the NASCAR Playoffs points standings to seventh, eight points below the cut-off line to the “Championship 4.” The Series returns to action next Sunday, November 5th, at Texas Motor Speedway for the second of three races in the NASCAR Playoffs Round of 8.