Hamlin, FedEx Racing Finish 17th in Crash-Filled Daytona 500February 27, 2017
Denny Hamlin finished 17th in Sunday’s Daytona 500 after suffering significant right-side damage in a mid-race, multi-car incident which forced him to limp home in the #11 FedEx Express Toyota in the event won by Kurt Busch.
Hamlin, the defending race winner, was collected in a Lap 129 wreck that involved 17 cars on the 2.5-mile, high-banked Daytona International Speedway. Multiple trips to pit road and lengthy repairs for the remainder of the 200-lap NASCAR season-opener proved futile, with the #11 machine crossing the finish line in 17th, one lap down.
“We just didn’t have the speed we needed to run at the front of the field, and once we got the damage, that pretty much ended our day,” said Hamlin, who won the Daytona 500 in 2016 by just 0.01 seconds. “The car never felt right after that, and we did everything we could to salvage a decent finish.”
The FedEx Racing Team started fourth after winning Thursday night’s qualifying race, and Hamlin finished eighth in Stage 1 to earn three championship points. The race structure this year awards top-10 drivers at the conclusion on the first two stages before a final dash to the checkered flag.
Hamlin lost track position relatively early in Stage 2, and was never able to make it up. A series of multi-car incidents marred the final third of the race, with Busch winning after many frontrunners ran out of fuel on the final lap.
All four Joe Gibbs Racing entries suffered significant damage during the race, with Hamlin’s teammates Daniel Suarez (29th), Kyle Busch (38th) and Matt Kenseth (40th) each forced to retire early from the event.
Hamlin leaves Daytona ninth in the Cup standings, as the Series shifts to Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 5.