Hamlin Finishes 37th at Kansas After Late-Race Crash
Denny Hamlin was involved in a crash with just 26 laps to go in Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway, causing major damage to the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota and relegating the team to a 37th place finish in the event won by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch.
Hamlin started third, but battled numerous issues on pit road.
A problem early on with the left front tire dropped the #11 deep in the running order and Hamlin was forced to the tail end of the field twice during the 267-lap event for pit road speeding penalties.
Following the penalties and with the race winding down, Hamlin was mired back in 18th when the caution came out with 32 laps to go. Crew chief Mike Wheeler called Hamlin to pit road for right-side tires only, catapulting the FedEx car to sixth for the restart with 29 laps left. Three laps later, Hamlin attempted to dive to the inside of second place Brad Keselowski, but Keselowski defended the move forcing Hamlin to the middle with Kyle Larson outside. The jockeying for position entering Turn 3 unsettled the air around the cars and both Keselowski and Hamlin spun, making contact with other cars in the process.
"I was going in there three-wide," Hamlin said following the incident. "I wasn't letting off and the 42 (Kyle Larson) was just too close up there. It wasn't his fault by any means, but we were both trying to drive in there to clear each other and I just got loose and I mean that's crazy there was not contact, but both me and the 2 (Brad Keselowski) got loose there. The FedEx car was fast today, we just didn't show it. We were just in the back because I sped twice. I've got to get better on pit lane to give us a chance and then I was just going for it there because I knew our car had some speed. I was on two tires and the guys in front of me were on none or two. I was just going for it. I've got the win and that's part of this format is going for it and that's what we did."
The finish dropped Hamlin one spot to 13th in the NASCAR standings following Kansas, 117 points behind leader Kevin Harvick after 11 of 26 regular season races.
The series returns to action next Sunday, May 15 at Dover International Speedway.