Hamlin Rebounds for 12th-Place Finish at New HampshireSeptember 25, 2017
Denny Hamlin overcame a mid-race loose wheel and subsequent unscheduled green flag pit stop to rally for a 12th-place finish Sunday in the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff race won by Kyle Busch.
Hamlin restarted the final stage in seventh, but quickly felt something amiss on the #11 machine. He pitted for four new tires, which revealed a loose right rear wheel, and Hamlin rejoined in 20th position, one lap down. He worked to move into the free pass position, which he eventually earned with less than 40 laps to go.
A couple late cautions bunched the field, and Hamlin steadily picked off positions to 12th by the checkered flag.
“We didn’t have the speed I thought we did in practice, but we made the most of the day after the loose wheel,” said Hamlin, who is fifth in the NASCAR Playoff standings following New Hampshire. “We struggled a bit from the drop of the green flag with a tight race car in the center of the corner, and just never was able to overcome that.”
Hamlin started third and finished inside the top-10 in both Stage 1 and Stage 2. He now holds a 44-point lead over 13th place Austin Dillon to advance into Round 2. The final race of the first round is on Sunday, October 1 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.