2020 Post-Race Reports
Get All Your Post-Race Information
From race highlights to quotes from Denny, Race Day Central delivers it all and keeps you informed on the latest and greatest in NASCAR racing.
Hamlin Wins Inaugural eNASCAR Pro Invitational Race with Last-Lap Pass
Denny Hamlin took the FedEx Express Toyota to a virtual Victory Lane for the first time Sunday, winning the inaugural eNASCAR Pro Invitational event at a simulated Homestead-Miami Speedway. The driver won the 100-lap race on the iRacing video platform with a last-lap pass around Dale Earnhardt Jr. as sports-hungry fans watched the exhibition event unfold live on FS1.
The racing community organized the simulator-driven event to help entertain fans while in-person racing is on hiatus. A barefoot Hamlin, who logged hours of practice time for the work-from-home event, started the race ninth from the seat of his simulator. He led 14 laps during the middle of the race and used a fresh set of virtual tires to surge back to the front in the closing laps.
Hamlin passed Earnhardt Jr. coming off Turn 4 of the 1.5-mile virtual oval to take the checkered flag.
“This was a great event for our whole racing community to put on for our fans, bringing everybody together to have some much-needed fun,” Hamlin said. “It felt great to get the win for FedEx, who has almost half a million team members around the world who are very busy ‘delivering for good’ right now, getting critical shipments to people and businesses.”
NASCAR expects to announce additional eNASCAR events for the coming weeks, with real-life NASCAR Cup Series racing tentatively scheduled to return on May 9 at Martinsville Speedway.
Hamlin Manages 20th Place Finish at Phoenix
Denny Hamlin finished 20th in Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway, following an on-track incident that caused significant damage to the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota in the event won by Joey Logano.
After starting third, Hamlin settled into fourth during the opening laps and was poised to stay up front with a car that was handling to his liking. Following the first caution and round of pit stops, the FedEx driver lined up third for the restart. As the field headed into Turn 1, Hamlin ended up in the middle of a three wide scramble, but Hamlin held on through the corner and maintained his position down the backstretch. However, as the three-wide battle continued, the aerodynamics became unsettled entering Turn 3 and Hamlin tangled with Brad Keselowski, the contact turned the #11 and Hamlin tagged the wall with the right side of the car.
Hamlin was forced to make numerous pit stops in an effort to repair the bodywork, but the rear spoiler was too far out of position to be effective, severely affecting the handling and Hamlin eventually fell back to 29th, two laps down.
Throughout the race, the team made every effort to try and get back on the lead lap, but the cautions didn't fall their way. But as the laps clicked down, crew chief Chris Gabehart used a flurry of cautions to strategically advance the #11 back on the lead lap, salvaging the 20th place finish.
“All the way around, that was a tough day for our FedEx team,” said Hamlin. “The bad part is that we had a great FedEx Toyota, but we were never able to show it. I really appreciate the effort by my team, they did a great job patching the car back up so we could get a top-20 finish out of it.”
The finish dropped Hamlin to 11th in the NASCAR standings following Phoenix. The Series returns to action on Sunday, March 15 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Hamlin Battles Back to Finish Sixth in Fontana
Denny Hamlin’s race weekend in Southern California ended a lot better than it started: After qualifying 28th and taking the green flag at the rear of the field, the driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota finished sixth at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday.
After disappointing practice and qualifying results, the team opted to bring the car to pit road for adjustments during Sunday’s pace laps – before the green flag even waved. The early pit stop meant Hamlin would take the green at the back of the pack. The efforts helped. Hamlin and his better-handling FedEx Camry were in the top 15 by the half-way point of Stage 1.
Hamlin’s 400-mile race wasn’t without its adverse moments. He unintentionally knocked Kyle Larson into the wall during Stage 1 and then scraped the wall himself in Stage 3, both causing damage that affected the car’s aerodynamics and handling. But the veteran driver kept wheeling the car around different lines of the multi-groove track to find speed where he could, even briefly taking the lead in the early part of Stage 3.
Entering the final 15 laps of the race in 10th, Hamlin battled numerous competitors to claim a few more spots and cross the line in sixth. The result bumped him up two spots in the championship ranking to seventh.
“We got our FedEx Camry handling OK after we worked on it throughout the day,” Hamlin said. “We just didn’t have the raw speed we really needed to do more. But considering how our weekend started, a sixth-place finish is a pretty good day for us.”
The NASCAR Cup Series next heads to Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, March 8, for the final stop of the West Coast Swing.
Hamlin, FedEx Racing Finish 17th at Las Vegas
Denny Hamlin finished 17th in Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, unable to overcome an ill-handling #11 FedEx Ground Toyota in the race won by Joey Logano.
Hamlin lined up fourth on the grid, but had to drop to the back of the field after the team was penalized for a technical inspection violation. At the drop of the green flag, Hamlin began reporting that the car was extremely loose and he felt like he was driving on ice.
As the race progressed, the FedEx crew made significant adjustments to the chassis during each pit stop, but Hamlin continued to struggle with the handling. Mired back in the pack in 24th, the team changed their strategy and stayed out during a caution with 90 laps to go in an effort gain valuable track position. The gamble paid dividends as the laps clicked and Hamlin was up to 14th when a caution waved with six laps remaining. Hamlin pitted with the rest of the leaders, but was penalized for speeding on pit road, sending him back to 24th for the green-white-checker finish.
Following the restart, the field scrambled back to the white flag as a multi-car accident unfolded in front of Hamlin, who dodged the melee, bringing the FedEx car back around to the checkers in 17th place.
“It was just a tough day all the way around for our FedEx team,” said Hamlin. “We just didn't have a good handle on the car throughout the entire race. We finally worked our way up into the top-15 and the pit road speeding penalty killed our chances of any kind decent finish.”
The series returns to action Sunday, March 1 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA.
Hamlin, FedEx Racing Capture Third Daytona 500 Victory
Denny Hamlin won his third Daytona 500 in five years Monday in the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, passing Ryan Blaney in the final stretch to win by 0.014 seconds, the second-closest margin of victory in the “Great American Race.”
Hamlin led a race-high 79 laps, and was leading to start the final two-lap overtime dash to the checkered flag. Ryan Newman and Blaney surged past Hamlin on the backstretch of the final lap, but Hamlin immediately got back to Blaney’s bumper to push back towards the front. Blaney made a move to Newman’s inside while Hamlin went to the outside. Blaney and Newman made contact, sparking a multi-car incident, as Hamlin was able to beat Blaney to the finish line by the nose of his car.
Newman was taken to a local hospital after the scary crash.
“First, my thoughts are with Ryan (Newman) and his well-being,” said Hamlin, whose 2016 margin of victory of 0.010 remains the closest in the race’s 62-year history. “I’m proud of this FedEx team for another great accomplishment, but no win is more important than the health and safety of the competitors.”
The race was postponed after just 20 laps on Sunday due to rain, and it resumed Monday afternoon. Hamlin and his fellow Toyota competitors stuck to the game plan of riding in the back out of harm’s way in Stage 1. Hamlin inherited the lead after varying pit cycles at the end of the Stage. He went on to lead the majority of Stage 2 and captured that segment victory for an additional playoff point.
The action picked up in the final stage, with side-by-side racing throughout the field. A handful of late-race incidents took out many of the frontrunners, but Hamlin was able to avoid the wrecks and remain near the front for the final few restarts.
The win is the 38th of Hamlin’s career, and his third Daytona 500 win makes him just the sixth driver in NASCAR history to hoist the Harley J. Earl Trophy at least three times. He joins Hall of Famers Dale Jarrett (3), Jeff Gordon (3), Bobby Allison (3), Cale Yarborough (4) and Richard Petty (7).
The series returns to action on Sunday, February 23 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Hamlin Makes Moves but Finishes 11th in Duel at Daytona
Denny Hamlin secured a 21st-place starting spot in Sunday’s Daytona 500 after crossing the line 11th in his qualifying Duel at Daytona International Speedway Thursday evening. Hamlin was a man on the move the entire night, taking chances and trying to make things happen to improve his position throughout the 60-lap race.
The green flag of the 150-mile event was delayed briefly by a short rain shower. But once Hamlin got rolling from his third-place starting position, the driver was ready to see what his FedEx Express Toyota could do. Not content to just ride along in line, Hamlin jumped out of line multiple times to try to shuffle the field and move to the front. He ran as high as third and as low as 18th.
His final move came in the last seven laps, as he enlisted the help of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Chase Elliott to drop low to make a push on the leaders. The three-car train surged toward the front, but didn’t have enough to overtake Joey Logano, who crossed the line as the winner.
“I saw some opportunities, and I was just trying to make things happen,” Hamlin said. “We didn’t always get the help we needed each time, and our FedEx Camry was kind of loose late in the race, but I think we’ve got something to work with on Sunday.”
With the results of Duel 1 filling in the inside row of the Daytona 500 starting grid, the 11th-place finish gives Hamlin a 21st-place starting position for Sunday’s main event. William Byron won Duel 2, which fills in the outside row. Hamlin will look to earn his third, and second consecutive, Daytona 500 win on Sunday. The 62nd running of the Great American Race airs at 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX.
Hamlin Finishes Sixth after Wild Busch Clash
Denny Hamlin finished sixth in the #11 FedEx Toyota in Sunday's Busch Clash at Daytona International Speedway after pushing Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones to victory.
Hamlin started 18th in the 18-car field following a random draw to determine starting positions. But, starting in the back didn't deter the driver of the FedEx Camry, who rocketed up to sixth after just five laps of racing on the high banks.
With most of the field content to draft in a single lane, Hamlin tried numerous times to get a second lane to form in an attempt to get to the front. Hamlin's attempts never accumulated enough cars to make the necessary speed to challenge the leaders before pit stops and varying strategies unfolded during the 75-lap event.
As the race progressed, the various strategies spread the field out around the entire 2.5-mile track. However, as the end of the race closed in, the field bunched back up and the racing heated up with three-wide racing.
While fighting for the lead with eight laps to go, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch tangled at the front of the field. Hamlin dove to the bottom to avoid the incident and took the lead in the process, however, the FedEx car was clipped in the right rear and received minor damage. Hamlin radioed that he thought the car was okay, but wasn't sure if the right rear tire would make it to the end. The FedEx team decided to stay out during the caution to retain the lead for the restart with three laps remaining.
Hamlin led the field through Turns 1 and 2, and down the backstretch, but as he reached Turn 3, the tire gave out and Hamlin spun in front of the field. The #11 sustained a lot of damage, but the team patched the car up and Hamlin returned to the race, two laps down.
Two more cautions would claim most of the field, and just five cars were running the final laps to the checkers. As the five cars jockeyed down the backstretch for the final time, Hamlin, now one lap down, tucked his FedEx Toyota under the rear of JGR teammate Erik Jones and pushed him from fourth to first through the final turn and to the checkered flag.
“That was awesome and so much fun,” said Hamlin, a three-time Busch Clash champion. “I mean I knew Erik needed to strap in because that last lap I was going to push him. I didn't care if I was going to push him into a wreck. I was just going to push him. It was fun. I mean my car was so, so fast. Proud of the effort by my FedEx team. I'm glad we got a JGR team win too. I mean that's all I could really do at the end was push him to victory.”
The NASCAR Cup Series begins their official season next Sunday, February 16, with the 62nd running of the Daytona 500.
© 2020 FedEx. ‘Denny Hamlin®’ and ‘#11®’ are trademarks of Joe Gibbs Racing, Huntersville, NC. Toyota trademarks used with permission.