2018 Post Race Reports
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Late-Race Pit Miscue Foils Top-Five Day at Watkins Glen
Denny Hamlin finished 13th in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Watkins Glen following a miscue on pit road during the team’s final scheduled stop on Lap 55 forced Hamlin to start at the rear of the field during the final green flag run to the checkered flag in the event won by Chase Elliott.
Hamlin started on the pole and ran in the top-five throughout the first two-thirds of the race on the 2.45-mile road course. Pit strategy called Hamlin to pit road on Lap 17 for an 18th-place finish in Stage 1, but the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota showed speed throughout and finished third in Stage 2. The plan for Hamlin, along with many of the front runners, was to make final pit stops when the fuel window opened, and the caution flew on Lap 54 for an incident on track, bringing the entire field to pit road for service.
Unfortunately, Hamlin’s rear tire was struck by Brad Keselowski, who was leaving his pit stall behind the #11, which set off a series of events that ended with Hamlin pulling away with the jack and air hose caught under the car. Two tires and the hose were sent scattering, but fortunately, did not injure any crew members. Hamlin was assessed a “tail end restart” penalty for running over pit equipment, foiling the team’s chances at the victory.
“It was just unfortunate during our final stop to have things happen that took us out of the race,” said Hamlin, the 2016 Watkins Glen winner. “We had a lot of speed in our FedEx Camry, and were well on our way to finishing in the top-five. Thankfully, none of our crew guys were seriously injured on pit road, and we’ll move on to next week.”
The finish kept Hamlin ninth in the point standings following Watkins Glen with four races remaining in the regular season. The Series returns to action on August 12 at Michigan International Speedway.
Hamlin Notches Top-10 at Pocono
Denny Hamlin finished 10th in Sunday's 160-lap event at the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway, fighting a tight #11 FedEx Express Toyota notching his 11th top-10 of the season.
Hamlin, a four-time Pocono winner started the race from the second position and maintained that position until the FedEx team set their strategy early on by pitting at lap 22 of the 50-lap Stage. The strategy paid dividends, allowing Hamlin to take the lead after the field cycled through the pit stops. Hamlin led five laps before a tight condition he was fighting gave a hard charging Chase Elliott the opening he needed to take over the top spot. Hamlin eventually crossed the line third at the conclusion of Stage 1.
Following a four-tire stop and much needed adjustments, Hamlin lined up seventh for the start of Stage 2. As the segment progressed and Hamlin's tight condition returned, Crew Chief Mike Wheeler reset the teams strategy by pitting after 25 laps in an effort to duplicate their Stage 1 result. However, the caution waved eight laps later, forcing the team to change their strategy. Three laps prior to the end of Stage 2, Wheeler called Hamlin to pit road in an effort to gain valuable track position for the start of the final segment.
Lining up fifth for the final Stage, Hamlin not only continued to struggle with the tight condition he had been experiencing, but the car wasn't responding well on restarts, costing the #11 positions in the process. A flurry of cautions at the end of the race spoiled any chance for Hamlin to attempt to challenge for the win, resulting in the 10th place finish.
"I felt like we definitely had a top-five car today, but between the handling and the problem we had with restarts, those two things pretty much ruined our chances," said Hamlin. "We still have some work to do the get our cars to handle better, but I'm confident we'll get the FedEx car in victory lane soon."
Following Sunday's finish at Pocono, Hamlin picked up one spot to ninth in the overall NASCAR point standings with five events remaining in the 2018 regular season. The series returns to action next Sunday, August 5th, at Watkins Glen.
Hamlin Collects 13th-Place Finish at New Hampshire
Denny Hamlin finished 13th in Sunday night’s 301-lap event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, overcoming an ill-handling #11 FedEx Freight Toyota to collect his 22nd top-15 finish in 25 starts at the New England “Magic Mile”.
Hamlin – the defending July New Hampshire race winner -- started the race from the fourth-place position, quickly catapulting into second before the competition caution even waved on lap 35. As he hit pit road during the yellow flag for four fresh tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment to help reduce his tight handling condition, other competitors elected to stay out on track or take two tires only, shifting Hamlin to 19th. He fought hard to regain his track position, but his lack of grip halted his progress to 16th as Stage 1 concluded.
A quick pit stop by the FedEx Racing crew positioned Hamlin in 14th for the second segment’s start, but he continued to battle the lack of grip during the ensuing 75 laps, and finished 12th as the yellow flag signaled the end of Stage 2.
After another four-tire stop during the Stage break, Hamlin lined up 14th to begin the race’s final segment. He continued to struggle with the car’s handling and fell back as far as 18th before slowly beginning his ascent back to the front, climbing his way to 13th before the checkered flag waved.
“We really struggled with the balance of our #11 FedEx Freight Toyota today, and that made it tough to get aggressive and earn ourselves some track positon,” said Hamlin, a three-time winner at New Hampshire. “Our cars certainly have speed though, we just have to work on setup, and we’ll make sure to work together on that as we move forward to keep ourselves in contention.”
Following Sunday night’s finish at Loudon, Hamlin shifts to tenth in the overall NASCAR point standings with six events remaining in the 2018 regular season. The Series returns to action next Sunday, July 29, at Pocono Raceway for the second event of 2018 at the “Tricky Triangle”.
Hamlin Finishes 16th in Kentucky
Denny Hamlin overcame a tight-handling #11 FedEx Office Toyota and early brake troubles to finish 16th in Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway won by Martin Truex Jr.
Hamlin lined up 36th to take the green flag for Saturday night’s 400-mile event after the team did not make it through pre-qualifying inspection in time to attempt a qualifying lap during Friday night’s qualifying session. He wasted no time working to advance his position though and gained 10 spots in just two circuits around the 1.5-mile oval. Hamlin quickly encountered trouble though, and on lap 23, he radioed to the team that he lost all brake function.
As the remaining laps in the first Stage ticked, no caution appeared, and Hamlin managed to wheel the #11 FedEx Office Toyota to a 13th-place Stage finish. The FedEx Racing team took advantage of the break between the first two 80-lap Stages to assess the brake issues, and after some minor front-end repairs, Hamlin was back on track to restart Stage 2 from 20th, ultimately finishing it 16th.
For the final Stage, Hamlin received four fresh tires and fuel to put him 13th for the restart, and he continued in that position as Crew Chief Mike Wheeler called him to pit road for a green-flag stop on lap 208. Just as the crew prepared to service the #11, the caution came out which caused Hamlin to fall a lap down to the leaders. He took the wave around to restart at the tail end of the longest line in 25th, ultimately battling his way back to 16th before the checkered-flag waved.
"We unfortunately ran into handling and brake issues early on in the race which prevented us from getting to the front,” said Hamlin. "Still, we were able to make up good track position after having to start 36th. We learned a lot we can apply for the next time, but now we focus our efforts on New Hampshire where we know we can contend for win.”
Hamlin remains ninth in the overall NASCAR point standings following his 16th-place finish at Kentucky. The Series returns to action next Sunday, July 22, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway where Hamlin captured his last Cup Series victory in July 2017.
Multi-Car Wreck Relegates Hamlin to 38th-Place Finish
Denny Hamlin was collected in a multi-car wreck early in the second Stage of Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway, forcing the #11 FedEx Cares Toyota to an early retirement from the 160-lap event and a 38th-place finish.
Hamlin lined up 11th to begin Stage 2, quickly making his way to 10th before the first caution of the segment waved with only three green-flag laps complete. Just as the field returned to green-flag racing, second-place contender Brad Keswelowski went spinning, igniting a huge multi-car car wreck that collected Hamlin. The #11 FedEx Cares Toyota sustained extensive damage and was unable return to track to finish the event eventually won by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones.
Once cars get sideways on the backstretch, everyone just battles to try to get through the wreck,” said Hamlin, following the incident. “With so many strong contenders out of the race early on, it’ll definitely be an interesting battle to the finish, and it’s unfortunate for our #11 FedEx Cares, Team Rubicon Camry that we’re not going to be a part of it.”
Hamlin started the 400-mile event from 17th, fluctuating throughout the 40-car field as competitors jockeyed to find their preferred position in the draft. He eventually propelled himself to the front, crossing the start-finish line 12th as the first 40-lap Stage concluded.
Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones held off a hard-charging Martin Truex Jr. to score his first Cup Series career win, with AJ Allmendinger, Kasey Kahne and Chris Buescher rounding out the top five.
The finish dropped Hamlin one spot to ninth in the overall standings following Daytona. The Series returns to action next Saturday, July 14 at Kentucky Speedway.
Hamlin Battles Back for Seventh-Place Finish at Chicagoland
Denny Hamlin finished seventh in Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway, battling back from a last-place starting position and late-race spin to notch his 10th top-10 finish of the season in the #11 FedEx Express Toyota.
Hamlin lined up 19th for the final restart and charged through the field over the last 50 laps to salvage a strong day in the event won by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch.
"It was an eventful day, for sure," said Hamlin, he 2015 Chicagoland winner. "We came from the back twice and never truly were able to show our speed. We needed a clean day to get up front but never got the track position to do that."
Hamlin started last after post-qualifying inspection revealed an infraction, disallowing his fourth-fastest lap in time trials. He quickly worked to the front to finish Stage 1 in 11th place. He maintained the track position during the race's midpoint and finished ninth in Stage 2.
However, while racing the top groove with 90 laps to go, Hamlin lost control and went spinning off Turn 2. He thankfully did not incur any damage, but had to pit for tires and restart 26th. One more caution allowed Hamlin to get four more fresh tires for the last stint, and he was able to make up 12 spots by the checkered flag.
The finish kept Denny eighth in the NASCAR standings following Chicagoland, 199 points behind leader Busch with nine races remaining in the regular season.
The Series returns to action on Saturday, July 7 at Daytona International Speedway.
Hamlin Scores Top-10 Finish at Sonoma
Denny Hamlin finished 10th in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway, charging his way through the field in the #11 FedEx Express Toyota to collect his fifth top-10 finish at the 1.99-mile California road course.
After battling his way inside the top-five in Stage 2, Hamlin elected not to pit with the leaders as they made scheduled green-flag stops in the segment’s closing laps. The decision allowed him to assume the race lead where he remained as the segment ended, collecting his second Stage win of the 2018 season.
While the strategy poised Hamlin for a valuable Stage win, it also forced him to pit during the Stage break while a majority of the leaders stayed on track. After getting four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment, Hamlin lined up 20th for the restart to begin the race’s final 60-lap segment.
The final Stage ran caution-free, increasing the importance of the teams’ pit strategies. Hamlin made his final scheduled green-flag pit stop with 20 laps remaining, with the ultimate goal of having fresher rubber to contend with the race leaders. He was scored 17th when he first returned to track, but he continued to fight his way to the front, making it to 13th with five laps remaining. It was until the race’s final lap where Hamlin made some aggressive moves to pass multiple competitors and break his way into top-10.
“We definitely had a car that could contend (for the win), we just didn’t have enough time to make something happen in the end,” said Hamlin, who captured his ninth top-10 finish of the 2018 season at Sonoma. “We had a decent pit strategy and really passed a lot of cars though, and overall we learned more for our next visit.”
Hamlin started the 218.9-mile race from the 21st position, but he maneuvered his way to eighth with only a few laps remaining in the segment. He ended up pitting right before the Stage end, forgoing the potential bonus points, but positioning himself for a fourth-place starting spot to launch Stage 2. He held onto his position and assumed the race lead, and when the caution signaled the second segment end, Hamlin was the victor, notching 10 Championship points and one Playoff point.
Hamlin’s 10th-place finish at Sonoma keeps the #11 FedEx team eighth in the current NASCAR standings. The Series next step is Chicagoland Speedway next Sunday, July 1.
Hamlin Finishes 12th in Rain-Shortened Michigan Race
Denny Hamlin came back from a 36th place starting spot to finish 12th in the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota in Sunday's rain-shortened Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway, won by Clint Bowyer.
Hamlin qualified 10th but had to drop to the rear of the field prior to the start after receiving a pre-race inspection penalty for a non-compliant splitter on the nose of #11. Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Erik Jones were also penalized for non-compliant splitters.
Following the penalty, the team, knowing that track position would be at a premium during the race, set their strategy up to take care of the tires in the beginning, setting up a two-tire stop during the lap 25 competition caution.
Hamlin worked his way up to 21st prior to the competition caution and the strategy paid dividends as Hamlin lined up third following the two-tire stop.
Hamlin crossed the line fifth at the conclusion of Stage 1. However, that would be the last time during the event that the FedEx car would be in the top-five, as Hamlin struggled during every restart with a loose condition in the early stages of the run, as well as having to line up in the undesirable bottom lane for most of the restarts.
With overcast skies and the threat of inclement weather moving in, Hamlin tried to stay in the top-10, but was hampered by the handling and a vibration that developed on the FedEx Toyota just prior to the end of Stage 2, finishing the Stage 11th.
A quick stop by the FedEx pit crew allowed Hamlin to start the final Stage ninth, but the issues with the restarts continued and Hamlin
lost three spots before a spinning car brought out the caution after five laps. During the caution the rain began to fall, eventually ending the race, trapping Hamlin in the 12th place finishing position, 67 laps short of the scheduled distance.
“We had a really fast FedEx car, we just didn’t get to show it," said Hamlin. "Got stuck in the bottom line on all but one restart and just – we just had a very good car. Just never got to get up there and race and show it and that’s frustrating, but can’t help the weather.”
Hamlin remains eighth in the overall NASCAR point standings. The Series returns to action Sunday, June 24th at Sonoma Raceway.
Wreck in Final Laps Relegates FedEx Racing to 35th-Place Finish at Pocono
Denny Hamlin spun in Turn 1 late in the final stage of Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway, incurring heavy damage after contact with the inside retaining wall and ending the #11 FedEx Racing Team’s day in 35th place.
Hamlin had battled his way to fourth in the race’s final Stage when a caution appeared with 20 laps to go. The unpredicted yellow flag prompted a variety of pit strategies amongst the field’s leaders, and Denny followed his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch down pit road for four tires and fuel in preparation for the remaining circuits in the 160-lap event, ultimately falling in line 10th for the restart on lap 143.
As the field returned to green-flag racing, Hamlin made his way to the bottom of the race track to continue fighting for his spot within the top 10, however his plan was halted when the #11 FedEx Office Toyota tangled with the #88 of Alex Bowman, sending Hamlin towards the inside wall. The contact could not be prevented, and the crew assessed the resulting damage to be irreparable, ending Hamlin’s day at the “Tricky Triangle.”
“We had a top-five car at Pocono, and it’s unfortunate we had to end our day that way,” said Hamlin. “Our end result does not match the performance we were capable of, and I hate it for this team. We’ll be back next week ready to make up lost ground, though.”
Hamlin started Sunday’s race from 10th, maintaining his position within and around the race’s top-10 for the majority the 400-mile event. He showed consistent speed in Stage 1 to notch a fifth-place finish when the yellow-checkered signaled the segment end. In Stage 2, Hamlin just barely missed the top-10 cut, finishing 11th at the 100-lap mark.
The finish dropped Hamlin one spot to eighth in the overall standings, 10 points behind seventh-place competitor Kurt Busch. The Series returns to action next Sunday, June 10, at Michigan International Speedway.
Hamlin Logs Fifth-Place Finish at Charlotte.
Denny Hamlin finished third in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway after maintaining his position within the top 10 for the majority of the 400-lap race to ultimately capture his third top-three finish of the 2018 season.
After a swift four-tire stop during the last Stage break, Hamlin lined up fourth in the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota for the fourth and final 100-lap Stage of the event. He maintained that position in the field as the segment ran caution-free, and when it came time for scheduled pit stops, Hamlin and the FedEx Racing crew elected to pit last, giving the #11 chance to contend with fresh tires. Hamlin worked to chase down the leaders, but he was unable to close the gap between himself and second-place contender Martin Truex Jr. before the checkered flag flew.
“Overall, I thought we had a good car tonight, we just didn’t have enough speed to contend with the 18 (Kyle Busch),” said Hamlin. “There were a couple times after contact with the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and 2 (Brad Keselowski) that we had to battle back where we really belonged, and I’m proud of this FedEx team for never giving up.”
Throughout the race’s first three Stages, Hamlin battled for positon at the front of the field to earn as many additional Stage points as he could. In Stage 1, he was shuffled behind Brad Keselowski on the segment’s final restart, falling back to 12th before fighting his way back eighth in the closing 15 laps. During Stage 2, Hamlin suffered right-front tire damage after contact with Jimmie Johnson, and he was relegated from sixth place to 25th after having to visit pit road for repairs. He wasted no time in making up lost track position though, and was back within the top 10 after just 10 green-flag laps, ultimately finishing fourth when the second segment ended.
Hamlin remains seventh in the overall NASCAR points standings, only a few points shy from the fifth- and sixth-place spots. The Series returns to action next Sunday, June 3, at Pocono Raceway.
Hamlin Finishes Fourth in All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Denny Hamlin fought his way to a fourth-place finish in Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, a non-points event that awards $1 million to the race winner.
Hamlin lined up sixth in the #11 FedEx Express Toyota for the race’s final 10-lap dash to the finish, and he made his way to third before a caution tightened up the field for a restart with only two laps remaining. Hamlin lined up on the inside row behind his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Daniel Suarez, and together, the two took off, battling a hard-charging Kevin Harvick in the outside groove. Hamlin and Suarez did their best to thwart off the No. 4 car, but Harvick’s speed was too much to overcome.
“We had a shot at the lead, but each time we made it towards the front of the pack, we only had enough speed to play defense,” said Hamlin, the 2015 All-Star winner. “The 19 (Suarez) and I did a really great job there at the end trying to find our speed on the bottom, but I just came off his bumper there slightly, and we couldn’t get free of the 4 (Harvick).”
After sustaining right-rear fender damage during the first Stage, Hamlin fell as far back as 19th before rallying to the front. By Stage 3, Hamlin capitalized on the tight-pack racing and elected to refrain from making any additional pit stops, and he positioned himself as a strong contender for the race lead as the remaining laps ticked.
Qualifying for the 80-lap Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race follows an unconventional format that consists of three timed laps, one of those laps including a mandatory four-tire pit stop with no speed limit enforced on pit road. Hamlin’s on-track laps times had him on pace for a solid qualifying effort during Friday evening’s session, but in an attempt to get all the speed he could out of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, he overshot his pit stall, costing the team additional time during their stop. An uncontrolled tire during the quick change resulted in an additional penalty and a 135.866 time overall, putting Hamlin in 14th for the Saturday night race.
The Series will return to Charlotte Motor Speedway next Sunday, May 27, for the Coca-Cola 600.
Hamlin Earns Top-Five Under the Lights at Kansas Speedway.
Denny Hamlin and the #11 FedEx team battled their way to a fifth-place finish in Saturday night's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway won by Kevin Harvick.
Fighting an ill-handling FedEx Toyota throughout most of the race, Hamlin and the team never gave up and used a flurry of late-race cautions to gain track position to notch their fifth top-five of the season.
Hamlin started the 400-mile event sixth and soon reported that the #11 was too tight in the beginning and became too loose as the tires wore. Despite fast pit stops by the FedEx crew, Hamlin couldn't get the car up to speed on restarts and with track position at a premium and a lack of cautions, Hamlin became mired in the field, running outside the top-10 for much of the race.
The FedEx teams big break came when the yellow-flag flew with just 20 laps to go. The caution forced a variety of strategies that saw some of the leaders pit.
Hamlin took advantage of the situation and stayed out, catapulting the FedEx car from ninth in the running order, to fourth.
A multi-car incident on the ensuing restart brought out another caution that forced NASCAR to bring out the red-flag to aid the track clean-up crew. When the race resumed, Hamlin lined up fourth for the final restart and fought hard to maintain the spot over the final nine laps, but Kyle Larson had fresher tires and took advantage of the enhanced grip to pass Hamlin with two laps remaining.
“We had an average FedEx Toyota for most of the race,” said Hamlin. It felt balanced on the short-run and I lost the balance there towards the middle and end of the runs. We optimized our finish. I certainly don't think we had a fifth-place car but we did a good job with track position there at the end and got a good finish out of it.”
Following Saturday's fifth-place finish, Hamlin moved up one spot to seventh in the overall NASCAR standings. The Series returns to action next Saturday, May 19, for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Hamlin Delivers Top-10 Finish at Dover.
Denny Hamlin finished seventh in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway, capturing his sixth top-10 finish of the 2018 season despite encountering multiple setbacks throughout the 400-lap event won by Kevin Harvick.
During the race’s first Stage, Hamlin took advantage of his long green-flag run speed to climb his way to fourth, however as the 120-lap segment wound down, Crew Chief Mike Wheeler encouraged Hamlin to save fuel since the leaders were closing in on their fuel window. Hamlin heeded Wheeler’s advice and was positioned for a top-five Stage finish, but he ran out of fuel with only three laps remaining and was forced to pit.
The stop ultimately resulted in a penalty since pit road was still closed, and Hamlin was forced to start Stage 2 from the tail-end of longest line (20th). Regardless, Hamlin again used the long-green flag runs to gain track position, and he diligently worked his way to 13th by the Stage 2 conclusion.
As the race’s final Stage commenced, Hamlin found himself looking for any way to break into the top 10. By lap 314, he improved to 11th, but his charge to the front was interrupted when the field was red-flagged for rain with 80 laps to go.
When the race resumed, the #11 FedEx Office Toyota was serviced with four tires and fuel, and the quick work by his FedEx Racing crew positioned Hamlin eighth for the restart. The remaining 75 laps ran caution-free, and Hamlin chased down Ryan Blaney for the seventh-place spot.
"We obviously encountered a couple issues throughout the race that set us back, but a top-10 finish isn’t too bad," said Hamlin. "Our FedEx Toyota was best on the long green-flag runs, we just didn’t have enough time there at the end to catch up to the leaders.”
Following Sunday’s seventh-place finish, Hamlin dropped one spot to eighth in the overall NASCAR standings. The Series returns to action next Saturday, May 12, for a night race at Kansas Speedway.
Hamlin Manages 14th at Talladega After Late Race Penalty.
Denny Hamlin finished 14th in Sunday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway, unable to overcome speeding penalties on pit road in the final Stage in the race won by Joey Logano.
Starting fourth, Hamlin proved to be one of the best cars throughout the day in the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, but the Ford camp, led by Team Penske drivers, had everyone fighting just to stay near the top-five throughout the 188-lap race.
Hamlin managed to lead 11 laps, but while running second in the third and final segment, a pack of Ford's dove for pit road trying to hang the #11 out to dry. Hamlin made a split-second decision to get to pit road in an effort to stay with the pack, but was penalized for speeding entering the pits. The penalty would prove to be too much for the team to overcome with just 37 laps remaining in the race.
"It was an error that cost us entirely too much track position today, we had to do something to try and beat the Ford's and it was a case of trying too hard," said Hamlin. "We were having a good day in the FedEx Camry, but that one mistake cost us a shot at the win."
Logano dominated the final segment, and was followed to the checkered flag by Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Hamlin dropped one spot to seventh in the overall NASCAR standings following Talladega, The Series returns to action next Sunday, May 6, at Dover International Speedway.
Hamlin Notches Top-Five Finish Under the Lights at Richmond Raceway.
Denny Hamlin battled his way to a third-place finish in Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway. Despite handling issues during the race’s first two segments, Hamlin capitalized on quick pit stops by the #11 FedEx Ground team in the final Stage to deliver his fourth consecutive top-five finish in his last four starts at his Virginia home track.
Hamlin started the 300-mile event from the outside lane in fourth and immediately felt something amiss with the handling of his #11 FedEx Ground Toyota. He struggled to maintain his track position, and he slipped back to 14th as the first 100-lap Stage ran caution free.
The #11 FedEx team used the first Stage break to perform major adjustments on the #11 Toyota including multiple rounds of wedge and a drastic air pressure adjustment, and Hamlin felt a slight improvement overall. After restarting 14th, he climbed his way to eighth, but the tight-handling conditions persisted, and he was forced to settle for 11th at the end of the second caution-free Stage.
The final 200-lap Stage proved to be another long green-flag segment. After making a scheduled green-flag pit stop on lap 276, he entered the field’s top 10 and worked diligently to chase the leaders up ahead. Hamlin capitalized on long-green flag runs to pick off his competitors one by one, and by lap 328, he was scored in fifth.
In the race’s final 50 laps, four separate cautions appeared giving Hamlin additional opportunities to pit. Quick work on pit road by the #11 FedEx crew earned Hamlin three spots, and he lined up second alongside teammate Kyle Busch for the restart with 25 laps to go.
He maintained that position until the yellow flag waved a final time with only three laps remaining, sending the 300-mile event into overtime. Hamlin again restarted on the outside of the front row, but was challenged by Chase Elliott for second, ultimately forcing him to third when the checkered flag waved.
“Our #11 FedEx Ground Toyota was very strong during long (green-flag) runs, and we definitely battled back to the front tonight,” said Hamlin, a three-time Winner at Richmond Raceway. “In the end, my team put me in a great position for the final restart, but starting on the outside row and the short run at the end of the race is what ultimately got us. Just ran out of time to get it done, but still a successful weekend overall.”
Following his third-place finish at Richmond, Hamlin gained two spots in the overall NASCAR standings, moving into sixth place. The Series returns to action next Sunday, April 29, at Talladega Superspeedway.
Hamlin, FedEx Racing Fight Back for 14th-Place Finish at Bristol.
Denny Hamlin came back from three laps down to finish 14th in Monday's rain-postponed Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, in the event won by Kyle Busch.
Nearly three-fifths of the 500-Lap event had to be completed Monday after persistent rain on Sunday forced NASCAR to move the finish to the following day after 204 laps were complete.
Hamlin was in second place when Sunday ended, and after the race resumed on Monday, he ran among the top-five early on. He finished Stage 2 in fourth on Lap 250 and was primed to breakthrough with his first win of the season. Unfortunately, a loose wheel on an early pit stop in the final stage forced Hamlin to pit from the lead under green.
Hamlin dropped in the running order and had to work with crew chief Mike Wheeler for the remainder of the event on differing strategies to try to make up the lost track position.
The team utilized the wave around and earned the free pass to get back on the lead lap with 100 laps to go, but restarting at the tail end of the field proved difficult, as Hamlin stalled out. One late race caution bunched the field and Hamlin took the checkered flag in 14th.
"It was a trying day for our FedEx team," said Hamlin. "We had an issue with the pit gun on our stop with a loose wheel, and we were in an uphill battle from there. We tried to make the most of our day, but I'm frustrated someone out of our control played a part in our finish."
The result moved Hamlin up to eighth in the standings following Bristol. The Series returns to action on Saturday, April 21 at Richmond Raceway.
Mid-Race Wreck Relegates FedEx Racing to 34th-Place Finish in Texas.
Denny Hamlin spun in Turn 3 early in the final stage of Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, incurring heavy damage after contact with a number of cars and ending the #11 FedEx Racing Team’s day early in 34th place in the event won by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch.
Hamlin lined up ninth for the restart to begin the final stage, and the leaders jockeyed for position on the opening lap. Hamlin saw a window to pass on the inside line in Turn 3, but was crowded down a bit by Aric Almirola. The loss of sideforce from the aerodynamics loosened up the #11 machine, and Hamlin was sent spinning in the middle of the track. Unfortunately, he was collected by Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson, causing extensive damage to the car.
“These restarts are so important to make passes to try to get to the front,” said Hamlin, following the incident. “I had a hole down low and tried to fill it, but the 10 (Almirola) came down a bit and took all the air off my spoiler. At that point, I was along for the ride.”
Hamlin started fifth and ran among the leaders in the opening laps. However, a speeding penalty during the team’s first stop on Lap 55 sent him back in the order, one lap down. He earned the free pass at the end of the stage, but an additional penalty during the break for an uncontrolled tire sent the #11 back again to start Stage 2. Hamlin spent that entire segment trying to make up track position, eventually finishing eighth at the race’s midpoint.
Busch held off Kevin Harvick for the checkered flag, with Jamie McMurray, Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano rounding out the top five.
The finish dropped Hamlin three spots to ninth in the overall standings following Texas. The Series returns to action on Sunday, April 15 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Hamlin Earns First Stage Win of 2018 Season, Finishes 12th at Martinsville.
Denny Hamlin finished 12th in Monday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway, leading 111 laps and collecting his first Stage win of the 2018 season during the 500-lap event around the Virginia half-mile. Hamlin spent the race’s first two Stages racing within the top five until the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota sustained slight damage late in the race’s final Stage that prevented him for making a run at the checkered.
Hamlin lined up fifth for the race’s final Stage, finally settling into fourth on lap 351. By lap 380, fifth-place contender Kevin Harvick caught up to Hamlin and challenged him for his position, and the hard-fought battle between the two competitors ultimately resulted in a damaged front bumper on the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota.
A caution appeared shortly after the incident on lap 385, giving the #11 team a chance to assess the damage on pit road. The crew refreshed the #11 with four tires and fuel during the scheduled stop, however Hamlin was forced to visit pit road for a second time to fix the nose damage and avoid the car from further overheating. The additional stop cost Hamlin valuable track position, and he restarted 15th to complete the race’s final 109 laps. Hamlin picked up three spots during the long green-flag run, finding himself 12th when the checkered flag flew.
“We definitely improved our car from Saturday’s practices to get more speed out of it,” said Hamlin, a five-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series winner at Martinsville. “We still have to work on a few things, but this is definitely a step in the right direction from where we’ve been in the past couple of races here, and overall, I’m really happy with our FedEx Camry. We didn’t necessarily get the good finish we deserved, but all-in-all, it was a decent day, and we’ll keep building from this.”
Hamlin started Monday’s race from sixth place and propelled himself to the race lead by lap 27. He maintained the top spot for the remainder of the 130-lap segment, collecting his first Stage win of the season ahead of Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer (the eventual race winner).
Hamlin led 111 laps during the 263-mile race, adding $12,321 to the total donation amount to Safe Kids Worldwide through the Delivering Laps for FedEx Cares program. For every lap Hamlin leads this season, FedEx donates $111 to Safe Kids, a nonprofit working to protect kids on the road, on behalf of the #11 FedEx Team. At the end of this season, the Denny Hamlin Foundation will also match the total donation to Safe Kids.
After his 12th-place finish at Martinsville, Hamlin remains sixth in the overall NASCAR standings. The Series will return to action on Sunday, April 8, at Texas Motor Speedway following the upcoming NASCAR off weekend.
Hamlin Rallies for Top-10 Finish at Auto Club.
Denny Hamlin finished sixth in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway, rebounding from an early error on pit road to score his fourth top-10 finish of the season.
The first yellow flag of the day waved on lap 39 for a single-car incident with Hamlin running 11th in the #11 FedEx Express Toyota. The caution allowed Hamlin to make his way to pit road for his second stop of the day for four tires and fuel, however upon entering his stall, he slightly overshot his marks and was forced to correct his mistake, costing the #11 FedEx team 10 positions in the race off pit road. Despite the setback, Hamlin worked to remedy the error, and he capitalized on his long-run speed throughout the remainder of the 400-mile race to find his spot amongst the field’s top 10.
"We were exceptional during the long green-flag runs today, but I definitely struggled to keep up on the restarts and short runs,” said Hamlin. “We were really in it with the leaders there at the end of the race, we just didn’t have enough time to get it done. Overall though, a good day for our FedEx team and a solid way to finish the West Coast swing.”
Hamlin started Sunday’s event from 25th after his #11 FedEx Express Toyota failed to pass through pre-qualifying technical inspection in time for Friday’s qualifying session. Despite having to start towards the rear of the field, Hamlin gained 10 positions during the race’s first 15 laps. He continued to make his way towards the front of the pack, running in the field’s top-10 for the majority of the race and earning bonus points in each of the races first two stages, finishing 10th and fourth respectively.
Hamlin remains sixth in the overall points standings after his sixth-place finish at Auto Club, trailing 40 points behind new points leader Martin Truex Jr. after five races this season.
After a three-week stint out West, the Series makes its way back to the East Coast for short track racing at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, March 25.
Hamlin Rallies for Fourth-Place Finish in Phoenix.
Denny Hamlin overcame a mid-race pit stop miscue to lead 33 laps and record a fourth-place finish in Sunday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at ISM Raceway near Phoenix, Ariz., rallying from the tail end of the field in the event won by Kevin Harvick.
Hamlin made his final pit stop from fourth with 55 laps remaining and narrowly maintained that position after fending off a hard-charging Martin Truex Jr. to the checkers.
Hamlin started sixth in the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, and stayed among the top-10 throughout the first two stages on the flat, one-mile oval. However, Hamlin parked too close to pit wall during the team's fourth pit stop, hindering the jackman's ability to properly jack up the #11 machine, sending Hamlin back to 29th in the lineup.
The 37-year-old calmly worked his way through traffic, picking off positions on his march back towards the front, eventually taking the lead that lasted 33 laps before Kyle Busch, Harvick and Chase Elliott made they're way past the FedEx Toyota.
"We just lacked a little speed honestly," said Hamlin, who now has three top-five finishes in four races this season. “Once we got the car hooked up there in the middle part of the race after the pit road miscue, the car took off and we ran extremely well. Once we started to lose rear grip, that's when those guys started to run us back down.”
The finish moved Hamlin up two spots to sixth in the NASCAR standings after Phoenix, 31 points behind Harvick after four of 26 regular season races.
The Series concludes its West Coast Swing at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on Sunday, March 18.
Mid-Race Penalty Foils FedEx Racing's Plans in Las Vegas
Denny Hamlin finished 17th in Sunday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, unable to overcome a speeding penalty on pit road in Stage 2 in the race won by Kevin Harvick.
Hamlin was one of the quickest cars throughout the day in the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, but a 19th-place starting position and mid-race penalty never allowed the team to capitalize on track position at the 1.5-mile oval.
"It was an unforced error that ultimately cost us today, and I take the blame," said Hamlin. "We has good speed in our FedEx Camry, but could never get up front to show it."
Harvick dominated the afternoon, and was followed to the checkered flag by Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Blaney.
Hamlin dropped to eighth in the standings following Las Vegas, 38 points behind Harvick after 3 of 26 regular season races.
The Series continues its West Coast Swing with a 312-Lap event at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, March 11.
Hamlin, FedEx Racing Finish Third in Daytona 500
Denny Hamlin finished third in Sunday’s Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, overcoming a pit road speeding penalty and avoiding a number of multi-car wrecks to position himself and the #11 FedEx Express Toyota for a shot at the 2018 ‘Daytona 500 Champion’ title.
Hamlin grabbed a hold of the lead with only two laps remaining in the 200-lap event, but a caution simultaneously appeared for a single-car incident, forcing the field to an overtime restart. Hamlin lined up first in line for the green-white-checkered finish and fought to maintain his lead, but he was challenged by a hard-charging outside line who was able to overtake the top spot. Hamlin crossed the finish line third to secure his first top-five finish of the 2018 season.
“I’m definitely disappointed after leading on the last restart, but in the end like that, it’s just a 50-50 shot,” said Hamlin, the 2016 Daytona 500 Champion. “It’s about what line can stay organized and work the best, and we just didn’t have that at the end. I’m proud of our whole FedEx Camry team for giving me a car that we were able to battle back, lead laps and give ourselves a chance.”
Hamlin started the 500-mile event in second on the front row of the field, taking an immediate lead and showing the way for the race’s first 10 laps before the first caution flag of the event waved. He led the leaders down pit road during the caution to refresh the #11 FedEx Express Toyota with fuel, but received a one-lap penalty hold for pitting outside of his pit box after overshooting the stall.
The penalty relegated Hamlin to 39th place, but he maintained his position and received the “free pass” to begin the second 60-lap Stage on the lead lap. From there, consistent lap times and swift pit stops by the #11 FedEx Racing team put Hamlin back into contention for the win in the race’s closing laps.
Hamlin led a total of 22 laps during tonight’s 200-lap event, triggering a $2,442 donation to Safe Kids Worldwide through the Delivering Laps for FedEx Cares program that is back for the 2018 season. Plus, new for this year, the Denny Hamlin Foundation will match the total donation. In the program’s inaugural season in 2017, FedEx donated more than $100,000 to Safe Kids.
With ‘Speedweeks’ in the rearview mirror, Hamlin sits seventh in the current Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings.
The Series returns to action next Sunday, February 25, at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Hamlin Finishes Ninth in the Duel at Daytona.
Denny Hamlin recorded a top-10 finish in Thursday night’s second Daytona Duel qualifying race, crossing the finish line ninth as he attempted to avoid potential damage to his #11 FedEx Express Toyota in the final-lap shuffle of the 60-lap event.
Hamlin held onto his second-place position behind eventual race winner Chase Elliott for 32 consecutive laps until third-place contender Kevin Harvick challenged him for the spot, leaving Hamlin alone on the high side as the draft pack moved passed in the race to the checkered.
“At the end there, I was trying to get out of the way,” said Hamlin, a three-time Duel winner. “Once the No. 4 (Kevin Harvick) pulled out of line, I knew I wasn’t going to do any blocking that late in that race – that’s where wrecks happen. It was best for me to get out of line and let those guys go at it.”
Hamlin led the field to green for the 150-mile Duel under the lights, showing the way up until the race’s first and only caution on lap 13. The team used the break to refresh the #11 machine with fuel, giving Harvick a chance to sneak by Hamlin in the race off of pit road before the following restart.
Throughout the 60-lap event, Hamlin commanded 18 total circuits around the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway.
Regardless of Thursday night’s finish, Hamlin is locked in to his second-place starting spot alongside rookie Alex Bowman for Sunday’s “Great American Race”, the 200-lap marquee event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule.