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Denny Hamlin finished 35th in the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota in Sunday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway after a blown tire sent the #11 into the wall, ending Hamlin's race and his chance to advance to the Championship 4 in the 2017 NASCAR Playoffs. Hamlin started Sunday's race in second and dropped back to third following the start, but he quickly refocused and took over the top spot after just 28 laps. He held onto the lead as Stage 1 wound down until a hard-charging Kyle Larson moved Hamlin back to second where he would finish the first segment to pick up nine stage points. Hamlin began Stage 2 as the leader following a fast stop by the FedEx crew, and he showed the field the strength of the #11 by leading every lap of the second segment, picking up the Stage 2 win and 10 additional points. Hamlin went on to lead a race-high 193 laps of the 312-lap race before being forced to retire from the race with only 37 laps remaining. Hamlin is now sixth in the NASCAR standings following Phoenix with only one race remaining this season.
The Series heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the 2017 season finale at the 1.5-mile south Florida oval. Hamlin is a two-time winner at the track and has led the field 213 circuits around the worn-out racing surface. He's collected four of his eight top-10 finishes at Homestead during his last four visits to the speedway, including a ninth-place finish during last year's season finale.
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Denny Hamlin finished ninth in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, driving the #11 FedEx Express Toyota to his 22nd top-10 finish of the season – tied for a career-best -- as Martin Truex Jr. captured the Series Championship. See full post-race report