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Hamlin Scores Consecutive Top-Five Finish at Atlanta

February 26, 2018

Denny Hamlin finished fourth in Sunday’s 500-mile Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, claiming his second consecutive top-five of the season in the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota as a result of a calculated pit strategy championed by Crew Chief Mike Wheeler. 

The top-five competitors visited pit road on lap 213 for their first green-flag pit stops of Stage 3, while Hamlin stayed out and assumed the race lead. He elected to make his scheduled green-flag stop 12 laps later on lap 225, capitalizing on four fresh tires compared to competitors who pit earlier.

Hamlin continued to execute the strategy, making his final green-flag, four-tire pit stop of the race on lap 274. The strategy paid dividends, and Hamlin moved into second behind leader Kevin Harvick, however a caution on lap 298 gave the entire field an opportunity to pit together. After receiving four tires and fuel, Hamlin lined up third for the final restart with 22 laps remaining, making his way to fourth  as the checkered waved.

“Our long-run speed was good and obviously happy that we could get another top-five finish for our FedEx Ground team,” said Hamlin, the 2012 Atlanta winner. “We really did a have a great (pit) strategy and did a great job optimizing our time out on the track. We’ll continue to work on improving our speed and will get ready for the next track.”  

Hamlin started Sunday’s rain-delayed event from the 12th-place spot and worked diligently to improve his track positon during the race’s first 85-lap Stage, finishing ninth and picking up two Championship points when the first green-checkered flew. He went on to collect an additional five Championship points for sixth-place result at the conclusion of Stage 2.

Hamlin also showed the way for a total of 26 laps throughout the 325-lap event, triggering a $2,886 donation to Safe Kids Worldwide through the Delivering Laps for FedEx Cares program.

Hamlin’s finish moves him to third in the overall points standings behind leader Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney. The Series heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway next Sunday, March 4, to begin NASCAR’s ‘West Coast Swing’.