Hamlin Notches Top-5 in Playoffs OpenerSeptember 18, 2017
Denny Hamlin notched his 12th top-five finish of the 2017 season after finishing fourth in Sunday’s NASCAR Playoffs kick-off race at Chicagoland Speedway, capitalizing on a well-balanced #11 FedEx Office Toyota and efficient green-flag pit stops from his #11 FedEx crew to maintain his position at the front of the field throughout the entire duration of the 267-lap event.
Hamlin lined up sixth for the race’s final restart on lap 215 after Kyle Larson narrowly edged him in the race off pit road. As soon as the field returned to green-flag competition, Hamlin quickly picked up one spot, passing Kyle Larson to overtake fifth-place.
Six laps later on lap 221, Hamlin moved passed Brad Keselowski into fourth place where he would stay for the remainder of the 400-mile event despite his best efforts to narrow the gap between himself and third-place driver, Kevin Harvick.
“We definitely had a top-five car today, so the fourth-place finish feels just about right,” said Hamlin. “It’s not a bad way to start the Playoffs, and our FedEx team certainly learned a lot this weekend to help us as we move forward.”
Hamlin started second alongside Joe Gibbs Racing teammate and pole sitter, Kyle Busch, to begin Sunday’s race, holding onto his position within the top-five for the majority of 267-lap event. He collected 12 bonus Championship points in the race’s first two Stages, finishing fourth in Stage 1 and crossing the line sixth at the conclusion of Stage 2.
Hamlin remains seventh in the 2017 NASCAR Playoffs standings -- only one point behind sixth-place driver Chase Elliott -- after Sunday’s fourth-place finish at Chicagoland. The Series returns to New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the site of Hamlin’s first victory of the season, on Sunday, September 24th.