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Hamlin Cashes In on Fast FedEx Toyota with Big Win in Las Vegas
Denny Hamlin and the FedEx Racing team scored their second win of the Playoffs and claimed their spot in the Round of 8 with a dominant win Sunday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Hamlin led more than half of the race and claimed the Stage 2 win before pulling away in Stage 3 to lead the race’s final 39 laps. Crew chief Chris Gabehart and the #11 team got the FedEx Office Toyota handling better and better as the race wore on, and the pit crew gained Hamlin positions on pit road with fast stops as well.
The win is Hamlin’s first at the 1.5-mile Nevada oval and his second of the 2021 season. The team now heads into the more precarious Round of 12 races at Talladega Superspeedway and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval knowing they’ve already advanced to the NASCAR Cup Series’ next round.
“I’m so happy for our FedEx Office Toyota team,” Hamlin said. “Joe Gibbs Racing just gives us great race cars. That's what I'm so proud of is to drive for those guys. I can't thank them enough for everything they do. It feels so good to win in Vegas. Last couple times I've been so close, but just didn't have the right breaks.
“It feels so good to not have to worry about the rest of the Round of 12. We’ve just done a great job on this racetrack and getting it a lot better for me over the course of my career. Chris and the whole FedEx team have been great. We’ve added another trophy to the trophy case and now we can get ready for the next round.”
The Round of 12 continues October 3 at the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway.
Cut Tire Ends Hamlin’s Drive for Victory at Bristol
Denny Hamlin had a third Bristol Motor Speedway win in his sights Saturday night. He’d already led 65 laps and was working on retaking the lead from Kyle Larson, but contact between the two cars cut a tire on the FedEx Freight Toyota and sent Hamlin sliding into the wall, ending his drive toward Victory Lane.
The incident came with 101 laps to go in the 500-lap race, when Hamlin dove underneath Larson to go for the lead, and the two cars made side-by-side contact. The #11 team quickly made repairs under the ensuing caution and kept their car on the lead lap. But there weren’t enough laps remaining for Hamlin to get back to the front to challenge Larson. The FedEx Racing team did reclaim 13 spots, pushing the FedEx Camry from 22nd to ninth before the checkered flag flew as Larson crossed the line for the win.
The FedEx Camry was fast all night, taking the Stage 1 win and running in the top five for most of the race. The top-10 finish was Hamlin’s 20th of the 2021 season.
“I’m really disappointed about tonight,” Hamlin said. “We were racing to try to win and cut a tire there. We were so fast. We got under Larson on that run, got too close and cut a tire. Then we didn’t have a caution there at the end to try to catch back up. But, overall, I think we’ve been doing a great job with our cars. We’re fast every week.”
Hamlin advances to the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, which begins Sunday, Sept. 26, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Hamlin Leads Most Laps, Scores Runner-up Finish at Richmond
Denny Hamlin dominated most of the 300-mile race at his home track of Richmond (Va.) Raceway Saturday night, but he would have needed a few more miles to chase down Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. in the end for the win.
The Chesterfield, Va., led 197 of the 400 laps, winning the first two stages of the race. But a couple slow green-flag pit stops in Stage 3 knocked Hamlin back further in the top five, leaving him with plenty of ground to make up. He spent the final 50 laps of the race pushing his FedEx Ground Toyota as hard as he could, closing a seven-second gap behind leader Truex to just 1.5 seconds at the white flag.
The final lap around the three-quarter-mile oval wasn’t enough to close the remaining gap, and Hamlin crossed the finish line in second behind Truex, collecting two playoff points for his stage wins. Christopher Bell rounded out the top three for a 1-2-3 JGR finish.
“We just needed a couple more laps,” Hamlin said. “Our pit stops were a little slow there and we lost about two or three seconds, maybe four, on pit road those two stops. And we got off track with the handling of our car in the middle stages of the race, but overall Chris (Gabehart, crew chief) and the team made great adjustments there at the end on the FedEx Camry. Just needed a couple more laps, that's all.”
The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 16 concludes at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway on Saturday, Sept. 18. Hamlin has already clinched a spot in the Round of 12 courtesy of a Sept. 5 win at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
Late Pile-Up Collects Hamlin and ‘FedEx Shaping Black Futures’ Toyota at Daytona
Denny Hamlin had a shot at a win and possibly the NASCAR Cup Series regular-season championship in the closing laps of Saturday night’s race at Daytona International Speedway. But “The Big One” struck with just four scheduled laps to go, collecting Hamlin and the FedEx Shaping Black Futures Toyota.
Hamlin had a dominant car that could weave through traffic throughout the night. He spent much of the race in or near the front, leading three times for seven laps. And the team’s pit strategy had the #11 car ready to make a surge to the front as the final laps started to wind down.
Unfortunately, contact between two other cars on Lap 157 triggered a pile-up that collected 11 cars, including Hamlin’s. The team was able to make enough repairs to return the car to the track for a green-white-checkered overtime finish. A second multi-car pile-up took out nine more cars on the final lap as Ryan Blaney crossed the checkered line as the winner as NASCAR waved the yellow flag. The wounded FedEx Toyota finished 13th. Kyle Larson claimed the regular-season championship with a 20th-place finish.
“I pushed whoever was in front of me to the lead every time and I couldn’t quite clear with them, and then we were running third and the leaders crashed,” Hamlin said. “I thought we could get a win in our FedEx Cares car showcasing HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). We definitely gave ourselves a shot, which was good, and just got killed there at the end, so there was nothing left.”
The FedEx Cares car showcased the FedEx commitment to HBCUs with a “Shaping Black Futures” paint scheme, featuring Jackson State, Mississippi Valley State and Tennessee State universities, and LeMoyne-Owen College.
The 10-week Cup Series Playoffs kick off on Sept. 5 at Darlington Raceway.
Hamlin Finishes Fifth in Wild Michigan Race
Denny Hamlin earned his 13th top-five finish of the season Sunday at Michigan International Speedway in the penultimate race of the NASCAR Cup Series regular season. The 400-mile event was a chaotic one – with four-wide passing and 11 different leaders – with plenty of contact that left the FedEx Express Toyota with dings and dents all around.
After starting ninth, Hamlin took the lead after a Stage 1 caution by pitting for fuel only. He led four laps in that stage and six more in Stage 3, all the while mixing it up with multiple other frontrunners.
In the final cycle of green-flag stops, Hamlin came to pit road for fresh tires and fuel with about 35 laps remaining. He then surged from the back of the top 20 to chase down the leaders once again. But a pop-up rain shower brought out the yellow flag with 19 laps to go and doused his momentum. Drivers circled the track amid the raindrops under yellow for only five laps, and then the green flag waved once again.
A multi-car wreck brought out a final caution with 13 laps to go, setting the stage for 10 wild, final green-flag laps. Hamlin was behind leader William Byron, both choosing the preferred top lane. Ryan Blaney, the first driver to opt for the low lane, used the front-row position to make his move for the lead. While Byron and Hamlin were racing each other, Blaney took off and, 10 laps later, took the checkered flag. Hamlin crossed the line fifth.
“We were really fast there right before that last green-flag stop,” Hamlin said. “We had run down the leaders from way back. We just didn’t need that caution for rain. We got a good restart and then I tried to make a move on William Byron, and he was so concerned with me that he lost the lead as well. Just crazy racing. Everyone is just sliding on each other, but it was a decent amount of fun. I’m really proud of this FedEx team for bringing such a fast car.”
The series runs its final race of the regular season Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. Hamlin current sits 28 points behind Kyle Larson in the push for the regular season championship.
Hamlin Wrecked out of Lead during Indy Race Overtime
Denny Hamlin looked to be headed for his first win of the 2021 season Sunday, leading on an overtime restart on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. But the FedEx Racing team’s day was ruined when series rookie Chase Briscoe bumped the #11 Toyota from behind and sent him spinning off the course.
The move by Briscoe stunned Hamlin and others, as Briscoe had seconds earlier short-cut one of the course turns and would consequently need to serve a penalty. The move that sent the #11 into the grass would cost Hamlin the potential win and relegate him to a 23rd-place finish. Briscoe later claimed he was unaware of the penalty.
The race on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn circuit was the first for the NASCAR Cup Series, which traditionally has run the oval at the historic Indianapolis venue. The 231-mile event featured plenty of action, including two multi-car incidents that triggered red flags late in the race, one forcing overtime.
After the incident involving Hamlin and Briscoe, A.J. Allmendinger surged ahead to claim the victory. Despite the disappointing ending for the FedEx Racing team, the race result was enough to clinch a berth in the Cup Series Playoffs.
“I agree Briscoe didn’t do it on purpose, but my team told me that he had a penalty right away and to me, it’s obvious,” Hamlin said. “If you cut the racetrack and end up in the lead, you’re going to have a penalty. It was just lack of awareness. He went right in the back of me. We can’t race that way. I don’t think he did it maliciously. I’ve raced with him for a year now. He’s not that kind of person, just had bad judgment.”
After holding the regular-season points lead for most of the season, Hamlin now sits second in points, 22 behind Kyle Larson with two more races remaining before the Playoffs begin. The series heads next to Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, Aug. 22.
Hamlin Drives Fast FedEx Toyota to Fifth-Place Finish at The Glen
Denny Hamlin scored his 12th top-five finish of the season with a last-lap pass on the road course of Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International on Sunday.
The FedEx Express Toyota was fast all day, leading six laps and passing cars during all three stages, including the final pass around William Byron as the cars approached the white flag. The #11 team might have competed for a top-three finish – or even battled for the win – but Hamlin had to give up the lead to head to pit road for fuel with 28 laps to go.
Kyle Larson won the 90-lap, 220-mile event, climbing into a tie with Hamlin for the regular-season points lead. The two will battle it out for the remaining three races before the playoff cut-off, each vying for the 15 bonus points to carry into the post-season.
“I’m really proud of our effort today,” Hamlin said. “We passed, it had to be, the most cars. We were really, really fast all day. Proud of this whole FedEx Express team. We’ve come a long way on the road courses. I thought we had equal pace with Larson, especially on the long run. Obviously, we made an extra stop there for whatever reason. It’s an encouraging day when we can be as competitive as what we were.”
The NASCAR Cup Series heads next to the infield road course of Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, Aug. 15.
Hamlin Climbs Back to 10th after Loose Wheel Spoils Bid for Win
Denny Hamlin and his FedEx Toyota were top-five fast all afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday. The team even had a shot at win, but a loose wheel spoiled the efforts, sending them home instead with a top-10 finish.
The race started under damp conditions, and misty rains picked up quickly in the first few laps. Fresh tires on wet pavement led to three Joe Gibbs Racing drivers, including Hamlin, getting sideways on Lap 6. The FedEx Office Camry suffered minor damage resulting from contact during the slide, and the team was pushed back to 17th. NASCAR then put out the red flag to wait out the rainy conditions.
After an hour-and-40-minute delay, the race resumed with the #11 no worse for the wear. The car was still fast, and Hamlin started making his way to the front. The FedEx Racing pit crew was speedy, too, gaining Hamlin spots on pit road twice during Stage 2. The team stayed in the top five, including leading a lap, throughout the segment.
But during the team’s stage-break pit stop, a lug nut became lodged behind the left front wheel as the crew changed tires. As Hamlin took off from his pit box, he instantly felt the wheel was loose and was forced to return to pit road the following lap. The tire-changing mishap pushed him back to 26th, but he used the remaining laps in Stage 3 to battle back to a 10th-place finish.
“Considering the setback with the loose wheel, 10th is a pretty decent result for us today,” Hamlin said. “It’s frustrating, though, of course, because we felt we had a shot at a win. Our FedEx Camry was fast today. I’m proud of this team for the fast car they brought for this race.”
Because of the lengthy red-flag delay, NASCAR could not complete the scheduled 301 laps before darkness overtook the track. Officials made a “10 laps to go” call on Lap 283, wrapping the race eight laps short. Hamlin maintains a 13-point lead in the regular-season standings as the series takes a two-week break before returning to action at Watkins Glen International on Aug. 8.
Hamlin Scores Hard-Fought Fifth-Place Finish at Road America
While many Americans were grilling out on the Fourth of July, Denny Hamlin was grinding out a fifth-place finish at Road America, the 14-turn road course in Elkhart Lake, Wis. The NASCAR Cup Series points leader battled a track where he had no experience, extremely hot conditions and some formidable competitors with plenty of road course success.
Hamlin qualified his FedEx Freight Toyota sixth for the holiday event, the first time the modern-day series has raced at the four-mile, hilly road course. The driver didn’t have too many complaints about the handling of his car throughout the 62-lap race, asking the team to tweak how it responded in certain turns as the day went on. He finished Stage 1 in sixth and Stage 2 in 19th, thanks to a strategy that brought him to pit road before the green-and-white-checkered flag.
Hamlin climbed as high as third with 14 laps to go, but the remaining laps saw some battles within the top five as they drivers traded positions while trying to hunt down leader Chase Elliott. After Elliott took the checkered flag for the win, Hamlin followed behind in fifth. It was enough for the FedEx driver to retain a three-point lead in the regular season standings.
“I thought that was kind of what I was capable of and what the car was capable of,” Hamlin said of his fifth-place finish. “I’m proud of our FedEx Toyota team. They gave me a good car; I just need to find three or fourth tenths here and there at this big of a track. It’s like three hundredths at an oval track. If I can do that, I will be right in the game.”
The Cup Series returns to oval racing next weekend, heading to Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 11.
Hamlin Finishes Fourth in First Race of Pocono Doubleheader - Saturday Race
A fast FedEx Ground Toyota and strong pit strategy helped Denny Hamlin finish fourth in Saturday’s 325-mile race at Pocono Raceway – the first of a weekend doubleheader.
Hamlin started the event in 10th and moved up and down the leaderboard as the team worked a different pit cycle than many of the other cars. His #11 Toyota had good speed, but Hamlin repeatedly asked for help getting it through Turn 2 of the triangular track. The handling was solid enough, though, to help Hamlin finish sixth in both Stage 1 and Stage 2.
The team’s long-pit strategy led to Hamlin taking the lead in the final stage with 36 laps to go as others hit pit road. He led for 11 laps before being one of the last cars to peel off for a final green-flag stop, taking right-side tires and fuel. He rejoined the field in seventh and went to work chasing down the leaders. He passed two cars to claim fifth, and then moved to fourth when Kyle Larson crashed out of the lead on the last lap with a blown tire.
“We had the fastest car, but never had the right track position,” Hamlin said. “Our FedEx Camry wasn’t good on the restarts coming through the gears, so I don’t know that we would have gotten to the front, but I thought we had the fastest car. We were running down that front pack big time, but it was a little bit too little, too late.”
Hamlin’s fourth-place finish allowed him to maintain an eight-point lead over Larson in the regular season standings. The NASCAR Cup Series returns to the “Tricky Triangle” Sunday for Race 2, for which the top-20 finishers of Race 1 will be inverted to create the starting grid.
Win Eludes Hamlin after FedEx Toyota Runs Out of Fuel on Last Lap - Sunday Race
Denny Hamlin was a lap away from his first win of the season. He was out front at Pocono Raceway, a track where he already owned six wins. He had been saving fuel since his last trip to pit road early in Stage 3. But his FedEx Toyota sputtered out of gas on the last lap, forcing him to pit as the white flag waved.
The FedEx Racing team was one of multiple teams playing the fuel mileage game late in the 350-mile event, with several of them peeling off in the closing laps for a splash of gas. But #11 crew chief Chris Gabehart thought he’d coached his driver into saving enough fuel to get him to the checkered flag. But the FedEx Ground Toyota ran out on the last lap, and Hamlin was forced to pit as Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch claimed the victory. Hamlin crossed the line 14th after his pit stop.
Just like in Saturday’s race – the first of the weekend doubleheader at the “Tricky Triangle” – the FedEx Camry was fast for Sunday’s event. The team tinkered with handling throughout the race, but overall Hamlin had the speed to compete, even though the fuel mileage numbers didn’t work in their favor.
“I hate seeing the white flag and I’m coming to pit road,” Hamlin said. “It’s frustrating. Fuel mileage has got us the last two weeks. Lug nuts got us the week before. But we’re running fast, and we’re getting a little better. I think overall we had a little bit more speed this weekend than we’ve had in the past few weeks, but we can’t see the checkered right now.”
Hamlin maintains the lead in the regular season standings by two points over Kyle Larson. The NASCAR Cup Series next heads to Wisconsin for a road course race at Road America on July 4.
Hamlin 21st at Nashville after Late Stop for Fuel
Denny Hamlin and the FedEx Racing team were fighting for a top-10 finish Sunday at Nashville Superspeedway, but fell outside the top 20 when they had to pit for fuel in the closing laps.
The disappointing finish followed an afternoon of numerous adjustments to make the FedEx Express Toyota handle better around the 1.33-mile oval. Hamlin started 13th and fell as far back as 27th during Stage 1 when the car’s handling was at its worst. But the stop-after-stop tinkering with the set-up paid off in Stages 2 and 3, when the team ran consistently in the top five.
The handling on the #11 took a step backward on the final run of the 399-mile event, knocking Hamlin out of the top five. The team was still in position to earn a top-10 finish, but Hamlin had to bring the car into the pits for fuel with two laps remaining. The move relegated him to a 21st-place finish, one lap down.
“We didn’t have the best car today, but we definitely should’ve finished better than we did,” Hamlin said. “We started to get a hold of the handling as the race went on and were in position for a top-five or top-10 finish. So, having to pit with two to go was definitely disappointing.”
Kyle Larson won the race, cutting Hamlin’s season points lead to 10. The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Pocono Raceway next weekend for a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader.
Late Race Pit Stop Relegates Hamlin to 21st in All-Star Race
Denny Hamlin finished 21st in Sunday night’s NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway after he was forced to make a late race pit stop to tighten loose lug nuts on the #11 FedEx Toyota.
Following a random draw, Hamlin started the multi-segment non-points paying event from the 16th position, and after a handful of laps, reported he was battling an extremely loose FedEx Camry. However, the unique format would give crew chief Chris Gabehart plenty of opportunities to make necessary adjustments to improve the handling.
As the race progressed and adjustments were made, Hamlin became more comfortable with the handling and worked his way up to third during the 4th segment. Hamlin managed to stay in the top-10 during 5th segment, that included a mandatory pit stop. The FedEx crew changed four tires during the stop, but realized there was a good possibility that some of the lug nuts might not be tight. The team was hopeful there would be a well-timed caution that would allow them to remedy the situation, but the caution never came and Hamlin had to pit prior to the end of the race, relegating him to the 21st finishing position.
“I was feeling pretty good about our chances about halfway through the event.” said Hamlin. “I was pretty comfortable at that point, but we were probably a top-5 car in all reality. The issue we had came at a really bad time and we didn’t get the break we needed in order to recover.”
The NASCAR Cup Series returns to action Sunday, June 20 at Nashville Superspeedway.
Hamlin Perseveres to Drive Damaged Car to Top-10 Finish at Sonoma
Denny Hamlin rebounded after incurring early damage in Sunday’s race at Sonoma Raceway, driving a torn-up FedEx Express Toyota to an eighth-place finish.
The 12-turn, 2.52-mile, California road course offers plenty of opportunity for cars to make contact, and it happened early for the #11 team. After lining up fourth for the start, the FedEx Camry took on front-end damage during Stage 1 of the 232-mile event, as contact punched in the car’s nose. By the later stages, the left front fender was heavily damaged as well, affecting the car’s speed.
Between the torn-up front end and an off-sequence pit strategy, Hamlin didn’t have much of a chance to compete with the dominant car of Kyle Larson, who went on to win his second consecutive race in a two-lap overtime finish. But the FedEx Racing driver did battle back from outside the top 20 to grab a top-10 result.
“I got a lot of damage early on, but we never really had anything for Larson,” Hamlin said. “We ran down Chase Elliott after the first 10 laps, but then we got off sequence and got in the mid-20s and got a bunch of damage. Our FedEx Toyota just wasn’t as fast after that. To get back into the top 10 with a car as torn up as that, I guess that’s an OK day.”
Hamlin’s lead atop the standings now sits at 47 points over second-place Larson. The NASCAR Cup Series will put points racing on hold for a week as it heads to Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, June 13, for the series’ annual All-Star Race.
Hamlin Perseveres for Seventh-Place Finish at Charlotte
Denny Hamlin had a difficult-handling car for 600 miles at Charlotte Motor Speedway Sunday night, but he got the most out of it for a seventh-place finish.
Hamlin started the race in 14th and quickly learned the handling of the FedEx Freight Toyota was going to be challenging for the NASCAR Cup Series’ longest race of the season. The car responded differently depending on what line Hamlin ran and whether he was in traffic, and the day-into-night track conditions affected the handling, too. The #11 team was able to lead three laps in Stage 2, but the car wasn’t strong enough to maintain a spot up front.
With track position difficult to come by, the team was able to use pit strategy and fast pit stops to move up the leaderboard at various points of the race. But it wasn’t enough to get close to Kyle Larson, who led 327 of the 400 laps and scored the victory.
“We just didn’t have as competitive a car as we should have,” Hamlin said. “I think we optimized what we had and got the best finish we could, but obviously we would have liked to have done better. We’ve got some work to do on our mile-and-a-half program.”
Hamlin maintains a 76-point lead in the standings leading into the series’ next event at Sonoma Raceway on June 6.
Hamlin 14th in NASCAR’s Sloppy, Rain-Shortened COTA Debut
A wet and wild inaugural race for the NASCAR Cup Series at Circuit of the Americas ended with a 14th-place finish for Denny Hamlin when officials ended the race 14 laps early amid heavy rain.
Sunday’s event at the Austin, Texas, road course was soaked with rain for most of the afternoon, creating treacherous conditions and poor visibility, resulting in multiple serious wrecks. Hamlin and the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota avoided any damage-causing incidents but did go off course once after a spin in Stage 1.
With teams on various pit strategies balancing fuel mileage and worsening weather, Stage 3 saw numerous lead changes. Hamlin was running fifth when he hit pit road on Lap 49 for his final green-flag fuel stop. He rejoined the field in 19th and gained five positions before NASCAR called the cars to pit road and finalized the race on Lap 54, giving Chase Elliott the win.
“It was just really hard to see on track today,” Hamlin said. “The conditions were difficult. We were hydroplaning, and we were driving blind quite a bit. Obviously not how we wanted our first race here at COTA to go, but certainly a lot happened that we can all learn from.”
Hamlin qualified 19th for the race but dropped to the rear at the start for unapproved adjustments to repair a power steering issue. The 14th-place result keeps Hamlin atop the standings with a 98-point lead. The series heads next to Charlotte Motor Speedway for its annual 600-mile event on Memorial Day weekend. Teams will race under the lights on the evening of Sunday, May 30.
Hamlin Finishes Seventh at Dover as Hendrick Sweeps Top Four
Denny Hamlin earned a top-10 finish at Dover International Speedway Sunday, scraping for track position all day while the Hendrick Motorsports cars dominated the front of the field.
Hamlin started second for the 400-mile event at the Monster Mile, but the start of the race would be indicative of how restarts would go the rest of the day – the #11 FedEx Office Toyota was not strong on the short run. The car hovered around the top five for most of the 400-lap race, and passes for position were hard to come by. The FedEx Racing team made improvements that helped the car’s handling later in the race, but it wasn’t enough to get to the front.
The team tried some pit strategy in Stage 3, pitting for tires under a Lap 313 caution while the leaders stayed on track. Despite being the first car with fresh rubber and restarting ninth, the #11 team could only gain two more spots over the remaining laps. Hamlin crossed the finish line seventh while Hendrick drivers Alex Bowman, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and William Byron swept the top four.
“We probably had a fifth- to sixth-place FedEx Camry,” Hamlin said. “(Kevin) Harvick and I kind of battled to see who was going to be next behind the Hendrick cars. We tried to get a tire advantage on the late pit stop, but we came out ninth and were really slow on the short run. We just didn’t have enough to chase them down.”
Hamlin led two laps and earned enough points to expand his lead to 101 in the regular season standings. The NASCAR Cup Series next heads to Circuit of the Americas on May 23 for its first race at the Austin, Texas, road course.
Hamlin Rebounds from Wreck to Finish 12th at Kansas
Denny Hamlin drove a damaged FedEx Toyota to a 12th-place finish at Kansas Speedway, bouncing back after smacking the wall late in the race.
Hamlin had just taken the lead from Kyle Larson with 30 laps to go when the incident happened. Though the #11 was out front, Larson wasn’t giving up easily and continued to hound Hamlin. As Larson made a move to pass six laps later, the FedEx Camry drifted up the track and slapped the wall. The contact caused enough damage to cut a tire, bringing out a caution and sending Hamlin to pit road for repairs.
The FedEx Racing team restarted in 22nd and clawed back 10 positions over the final 17 laps to cross the finish line 12th. Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch charged out to the front in a green-white-checkered finish to take the win for his first victory of the season.
“I knew Larson wasn’t going to give up easily and that it would continue to be a battle after I passed him,” Hamlin said. “Unfortunately, that battle wound up with our FedEx Toyota in the wall. But the team patched it up, kept us on the lead lap, and gave us a shot at a decent finish. So, I’m proud we were at least able to recover the way we did.”
The finish allowed Hamlin to maintain his 87-point lead in the NASCAR Cup Series standings. Up next, the series will turn back time for “Throwback Weekend” on Sunday, May 9, at Darlington Raceway.
Hamlin’s Top-Five Streak Ends in Talladega
Speeding penalties and crash damage put an end to Denny Hamlin’s streak of six top-five finishes Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. A race that began looking promising for the FedEx Racing team ended up with a 32nd-place finish.
Hamlin lined up on the pole for the 500-mile event but dropped to the rear for the race start due to unapproved adjustments. He found his way back up to the front by Lap 28 in Stage 1, where he stayed for 21 laps. He then led 23 laps in Stage 2 before being dealt a pass-through penalty for speeding onto pit road – and then penalized again for speeding on his pass-through.
The penalties left the FedEx Ground Toyota one lap down and in 36th, but plenty of laps remained to make up the lost ground. But on Lap 118, contact from behind forced Hamlin into the wall, causing damage that required lengthy repairs on pit road. The team was never able to recover and finished the race 32nd. Brad Keselowski earned his first win of the season in a green-white-checkered, overtime finish.
“The speeding penalties were a setback, but we knew we had time to work our way back,” Hamlin said. “But then once we had the damage and had a lot of repairs to make, that put us too far back and we couldn’t overcome that. I’m proud of our FedEx team, though, for not giving up and working hard to get our Camry back on track.”
The #11 FedEx Toyota once again paid tribute to the victims of the FedEx Ground mass shooting in Indianapolis, featuring a black ribbon decal and the URL for the fund for victims and survivors (gofundme.com/FedExSurvivors).
Despite the disappointing finish, Hamlin extended his championship points lead to 87 points. The NASCAR Cup Series heads next to Kansas Speedway for a 400-mile event on May 2.
Hamlin Dominates at Richmond but Bowman Steals Win
Denny Hamlin had the dominant car and led the most laps at Richmond Raceway on Sunday, but Alex Bowman stole the victory. After Hamlin won the first two stages and led 207 of 400 laps, Bowman squeaked by with 10 to go, leaving the #11 team with a runner-up finish.
A solid-handling car and fast pit stops kept Hamlin up front for most of the 300-mile event. An 11.6-second pit stop even put the #11 in the lead for the final restart with 12 laps to go. But the FedEx Toyota did not take off well when the green flag waved, and Bowman made the pass around Hamlin for the eventual win.
The second-place finish for Hamlin was his eighth top-five in the season’s nine races and sixth straight. The result increased Hamlin’s championship lead to 81 points, and the stage wins earned him two playoff points.
The #11 Toyota paid tribute to the FedEx team members whose lives were lost Thursday in a mass shooting at a FedEx Ground facility in Indianapolis – a tragedy that Hamlin reflected on after the race.
“First and foremost, we are thinking of all of the families in Indy right now,” he said. “Such an awful tragedy to happen there. Our thoughts and prayers are with those families.”
Hamlin still believes their first-place team is performing as needed.
“We’re running well each week. We’re leading a lot of laps, but you have to lead the last lap to get the win.”
The NASCAR Cup Series cranks up the speed with a visit to Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, April 25.
Hamlin Dominates Martinsville Race but Surrenders Late-Race Lead to Teammate
Denny Hamlin extended his championship lead to 76 points Sunday with a third-place finish at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway after dominating most of the race. The FedEx Office Toyota led 276 of the event’s 500 laps but didn’t have the long-run speed to hold off a late-charging Martin Truex Jr., who passed Hamlin for the win with 15 laps to go.
Hamlin’s dominance started Saturday night, when the 263-mile race initially went green, until rain forced a red flag after 41 laps. Once the race resumed on Sunday afternoon, the FedEx Camry continued to show its power and nimble handling around the paperclip-shaped short track – especially on the short runs. With 15 cautions, there were plenty of opportunities for the team to show its short-run strength on restarts.
But the race stayed green for the latter part of Stage 3, allowing Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Truex to close in on Hamlin and make a late pass on Lap 485. Chase Elliott then passed Hamlin as well, putting the #11 in third for the finish.
The podium finish is Hamlin’s seventh top-five result in the season’s eight races and his fifth straight.
The 276 laps out front were the most led by Hamlin in a race since the spring Martinsville event in 2009, when he led 296.
“Our FedEx Camry was a great short-run car,” Hamlin said post-race. “It was great on restarts and was fast for 25 to 30 laps, and then guys started catching up. We were just stuck in a box where we couldn’t be good for the long run. But we’re getting closer. There’s nothing saying we can’t go out and win the next three races.”
The NASCAR Cup Series stays in Virginia for its next event, a 300-miler at Richmond Raceway on Sunday, April 18.
Bristol Dirt Track Overtime Ends in Third-Place Finish for Hamlin
As dusty and dirty as the NASCAR Cup Series race was at Bristol Motor Speedway, Denny Hamlin wanted a pass for the win to be clean. So, when he had the chance to put a bump-and-run move on leader Joey Logano during overtime laps Monday night, Hamlin instead chose to try a pass on the outside. The move resulted in the #11 FedEx Toyota losing grip – and a third-place finish for Hamlin.
The spectacle of the series’ first dirt race in more than 50 years was postponed a day, after heavy weekend rains washed out Sunday’s track activity. The wait seemed to be worth it, as a limited-capacity crowd cheered as Hamlin led the field to the green flag for the first of 253 laps. (The FedEx Racing driver inherited the lead after an engine change forced pole-sitter Kyle Larson to start from the rear.)
Hamlin led the first lap before his loose-handling car dropped him back outside the top five. But, even with the unfamiliar racing conditions of the temporary dirt track, the FedEx team stayed competitive throughout the 127-mile event, racing near the front and picking up stage points.
The #11 team was in second and battling leader Logano when the yellow flag flew on Lap 246, forcing a green-white-checkered finish. During the two-lap dash to the finish, Hamlin tried to pass Logano on the outside, but lost traction and fell back to third, allowing Logano and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to cross the finish line ahead of him.
The third-place result was Hamlin’s fourth consecutive top-five finish, padding his championship points lead to 58.
“I was kind of guessing, but I thought I could – on that last restart – run the top end hard, but they didn’t prep it in between cautions like they did before, so it was just marbles up there,” Hamlin said. “I’m proud of this whole FedEx Camry team. Man, I thought I had a shot there. I cut the 22 (Logano) too many breaks there when he was cutting us off, but at the end of the day it looked like he had a little bit better car in the long run. I’m proud of this whole team. We are third-best again.”
The Cup Series takes the Easter holiday weekend off before returning to action at Martinsville Speedway on April 10.
Hamlin Extends Top-Five Streak and Points Lead
Denny Hamlin padded his championship points lead Sunday with his third straight top-five finish, bringing home a fourth-place result at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The #11 FedEx Express team started the race on the pole and led the first 27 laps but didn’t have the speed to be out front beyond that early surge. Hamlin and his pit crew were fast all day, but not fast enough to pass the dominant car of Kyle Larson, who led 269 laps and appeared headed for the win until Ryan Blaney passed him for the lead with nine laps to go.
The fourth-place run was Hamlin’s fifth top-five finish in the season’s six races and enough to extend his lead atop the standings to 43 points.
“We just weren’t fast enough,” Hamlin said. “That's been the story so far this season. We're getting our balance close, but we just need more. We're having these clean races and getting everything else right, but there are just always one or two cars that are a little bit faster. We'll go to work on it.”
The NASCAR Cup Series will go dirt racing for the first time in more than 50 years next weekend, heading to a temporary clay dirt course at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 28.
Hamlin Extends Points Lead with Fourth-Place Finish at Las Vegas
Denny Hamlin’s FedEx Ground Toyota didn’t have the speed to bring home a win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, but it had enough to secure a fourth-place finish and pad Hamlin’s championship points lead.
The FedEx Racing team finished fourth in the racy, 400-mile event, which officially saw 27 lead changes among 12 different drivers over the course of its 267 laps. The #11 car was out front four different times for a total of 47 laps.
The team worked on the handling of the car on every pit stop, with Hamlin asking for help through the turns on every run. Crew chief Chris Gabehart’s adjustments made improvements to the car – and the pit crew helped with fast pit stops – but Hamlin didn’t have enough speed to compete with Kyle Larson, who led 103 laps and took the win.
“We got our car better for the short runs, but we just didn’t have enough long-run speed,” Hamlin said. “I thought it was a good day for our FedEx Ground Camry team, gathering data, trying to figure out what we can do to be better when we come back here in the fall. We missed the balance in the last part of the race, but we’ll take the information and figure it out.”
Hamlin extended his lead in the driver standings to 38 points. The NASCAR Cup Series stays out west to race at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, March 14.
Hamlin Fights Setbacks to Finish 11th at Homestead
Denny Hamlin finished 11th at Homestead-Miami Speedway Sunday after working to overcome penalties that twice sent him to the rear of the field.
Hamlin lined up on the pole in the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest Toyota for the start of the 400-mile event, but pre-race adjustments deemed “unapproved” by NASCAR sent him to the rear for the green flag. Despite some difficult handling, Hamlin’s Camry was able to climb back into the top five. A quick pit stop by the FedEx pit crew in the closing laps of Stage 2 put Hamlin in position to finish the segment in second, and he held that second spot for the start of Stage 3.
The final segment of the race brought another challenge. A speeding penalty on a Lap 200 green-flag stop sent Hamlin to the back of the pack once again. The team took the ensuing restart in 28th, and Hamlin used the remaining 60 laps to claw his way to a spot just outside the top 10. He finished 11th, allowing him to maintain the series points lead. William Byron won the race.
“Obviously, we hurt ourselves with the penalties,” Hamlin said. “But, we also didn’t have the car we needed to overcome them. We’ll learn from it and move on and give it all we’ve got next week in Las Vegas.”
The NASCAR Cup Series heads west to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for a 400-mile event on Sunday, March 7.
Hamlin Grabs Points Lead after Third-Place Finish on Daytona Road Course
Denny Hamlin said he had a third-place car pretty much all day Sunday on the Daytona International Speedway road course, and that’s exactly where he finished. The top-three performance was enough to boost him into first place in the 2021 point standings after the completion of the first two races.
Hamlin and the FedEx Racing team started the 253-mile event from the fourth spot and hung around in the top five for much of the afternoon, finishing Stage 1 in third and moving out front to take the Stage 2 win. The 70-lap race was interrupted by eight caution flags – including one for a brief rain shower – which made pit strategy a significant factor.
The team opted to make a final pit stop for fresh tires under caution on Lap 57, putting Hamlin in 18th for the ensuing restart. He used the remaining 12 green-flag laps to pick off spots on the leaderboard, making his way up to third before the checkered flag flew. Ahead of him, Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Christopher Bell passed Joey Logano with two laps to go to earn his first Cup career win.
“We were third-best, to be honest with you, all day,” Hamlin said. “That’s kind of what our FedEx Camry had. Christopher Bell was fast there the second half of the race, and I thought we were solid. I was kind of confused on what to do with the strategy there. But it was a great team win for Joe Gibbs Racing. Congrats to Christopher on his first win.”
The Cup Series heads south to Homestead-Miami Speedway for a 400-mile event on Sunday, Feb. 28. Hamlin will start the race as the points leader, 12 points ahead of Logano.
Hamlin Dominates Daytona 500 but Finishes Fifth
Denny Hamlin dominated most of the rain-delayed Daytona 500 Sunday but came up short of a history-making third consecutive win in “The Great American Race.” The #11 team finished fifth after a late-race green-flag pit stop shuffled Hamlin too far out of the lead to recover.
Hamlin and his FedEx “Where Now Meets Next” Toyota won Stages 1 and 2, and led 98 of the event’s 200 laps. When he wasn’t out front, he was actively weaving his way back up there, and it appeared he could be on his way to earning his fourth career – and third straight – Harley J. Earl trophy. With one last green-flag pit stop needed, Hamlin and the other Toyota drivers ducked down pit road together on Lap 173. But Hamlin and his teammates were too detached exiting pit road to blend back into traffic in the lead.
Hamlin found himself in 13th with about 20 laps remaining, with the field staying single file until the white flag. The lead-lap group of cars then spread out for a dash to the finish, and contact between a pair of Team Penske cars triggered a last-lap wreck. Michael McDowell squeaked through for the win, while Hamlin crossed the line in fifth.
“Our fate was sealed after that last pit stop,” Hamlin said. “We came out in front of everybody and didn’t have any help to get up to speed. They all blew by us because they were single file. The fact we came back to fifth on the last couple of laps is pretty good. We had a dominant car. I was happy with everything but the finish.”
Lightning and rain moved into the area shortly after the race got under way. The event was red-flagged with only 15 laps completed and did not return to green for five hours and 40 minutes. The NASCAR Cup Series returns to Daytona International Speedway road course on Feb. 21 for its second points race of the season.
Duel in Daytona: Hamlin Runs out of Gas during Last-Lap Surge
Denny Hamlin was right where he wanted to be – in fourth and on the move on the final lap of his qualifying duel at Daytona International Speedway Thursday night. But his #11 Camry ran out of fuel on the backstretch, dropping him down to a 13th-place finish.
Duel #1, in which Hamlin started seventh, was a typical superspeedway event, with cars strategically jockeying for position throughout its 60 laps. Hamlin initially took his FedEx “Where Now Meets Next” Toyota toward the back of the 22-car pack to avoid early chaos but worked his way back up to the front about half-way through the race. After leading Lap 34, he ducked to pit road for a quick fuel-only stop.
The stop was so quick that Hamlin returned to the track alone, with no drafting help, and consequently had to fall back in line behind the main pack. Crew chief Chris Gabehart also warned Hamlin that the team didn’t get the gas tank as full as needed. Despite the challenges, Hamlin managed to work his way back up to fourth with five laps to go. But the car ran out of fuel on the final lap, and Hamlin crossed the finish line 13th. Aric Almirola, who led 52 of the 60 laps, took the win.
“I did everything I wanted to,” Hamlin said. “I knew I was going to beat everyone off pit road, but I had too big of a lead and then didn’t have any drafting help getting up to speed, and everyone went by us. Then I worked it right when I was able to jump up there and put myself in fourth. I got a run on (Christopher Bell) and kind of got pinched there, and then ran out of fuel on the backstretch. I really liked where I was at going into Turn 1 on the last lap, but we cut it too close on fuel.”
Once a rain-delayed Duel #2 is complete, the field will be set for Sunday’s main event, the 63rd running of the Daytona 500.
Hamlin Leads the Most Laps but Finishes Sixth in Clash at Daytona
FedEx Racing driver Denny Hamlin kicked off the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season with a sixth-place finish in the “Clash at Daytona” exhibition race Tuesday night. Hamlin looked sharp on the Daytona International Speedway road-course event, leading 21 of the 35 laps, but couldn’t push his way back to the front after a late-race pit stop.
Hamlin started the Clash in third by virtue of random draw but didn’t stay there long once the green flag flew. The #11 Toyota passed the top two before the first lap was complete and stayed there for the first nine circuits. Despite a loose-handling car for part of the 126-mile race, Hamlin stayed in or near the front for most of the event.
When the caution flag flew with eight laps to go – the result of leader Martin Truex Jr. crashing into the wall – crew chief Chris Gabehart called Hamlin to pit road for some needed tires and fuel. After restarting 10th, Hamlin was able to climb four more spots in the remaining laps to finish sixth. Kyle Busch got the victory after Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott wrecked in the final turn battling for the lead.
“I just got jammed up back there on that final restart,” Hamlin said. “There wasn’t anywhere for me to go. But our FedEx Camry was pretty good tonight. Chris and the team got it dialed in pretty good after some early adjustments. We led a lot of laps, and we learned some things that will help us when we come back here racing for points in a couple weeks.”
The FedEx Racing team’s Daytona 500 car will be on track next, with pole time trials scheduled for Wednesday and the qualifying duels to fill out the field on Thursday. NASCAR will run “The Great American Race” on Sunday, Feb. 14.
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