Hamlin Captures Third-Place Finish at Texas
Denny Hamlin finished third in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway to notch his best finish at the 1.5-mile track since his back-to-back wins at the Lone Star State speedway in 2010. Hamlin raced within the top-10 for the majority of the 334-lap event, taking advantage of a two-tire pit strategy and tactical driving in the race’s final Stage to collect his 15th top-five finish of the 2017 season -- tying his career-best number of top-five finishes in a single season (2009).
After falling as far back as 14th in the race’s final Stage, Hamlin fought his way back to the front of the field and was scored fourth when the race’s seventh caution appeared on lap 270. The yellow-flag break gave the #11 FedEx crew an opportune moment to make a pit stop within their fuel window, and they elected to take two right-side tires only, putting Hamlin in the lead for the restart with 60 laps remaining. Hamlin held onto the coveted top spot until a restart on lap 288 gave Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick an opportunity to tighten up the gap and move passed him.
“We had a really good FedEx Camry today, just had a couple bad restarts there where I went high and lost my track position,” said Hamlin. “We had to take two (tires) to get that track position back that I lost, but overall, we still had a good day. We’ll just keep digging and keep giving ourselves a shot to win, and hopefully next week will be our week.”
Hamlin recorded a fast lap speed of 200.617 mph during Friday night’s qualifying session at Texas, giving him the advantage of starting second on the front row next to pole sitter Kurt Busch. Hamlin took over the race lead on the initial start, showing the way for 47 laps before a hard-charging Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick made their move on the #11 FedEx Office Toyota. He went on to lead 18 additional laps in the race’s final Stage, leading a total of 65 laps during the AAA Texas 500 to trigger a $7,215 donation to Safe Kids Worldwide as a part of this season’s Delivering Laps for FedEx Cares program.
Following Sunday’s race, Hamlin gained two positions in the NASCAR Playoffs points standings. He’s now fifth in the overall standings, 19 points below the cut-off line to the “Championship 4”.
The Series returns to action next Sunday, November 12th, at Phoenix Raceway where five Playoff drivers will contend for the one remaining spot in the final round of the 2017 NASCAR Playoffs.