Hamlin Rallies for Fourth-Place Finish in PhoenixMarch 12, 2018
Denny Hamlin overcame a mid-race pit stop miscue to lead 33 laps and record a fourth-place finish in Sunday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at ISM Raceway near Phoenix, Ariz., rallying from the tail end of the field in the event won by Kevin Harvick.
Hamlin made his final pit stop from fourth with 55 laps remaining and narrowly maintained that position after fending off a hard-charging Martin Truex Jr. to the checkers.
Hamlin started sixth in the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, and stayed among the top-10 throughout the first two stages on the flat, one-mile oval. However, Hamlin parked too close to pit wall during the team's fourth pit stop, hindering the jackman's ability to properly jack up the #11 machine, sending Hamlin back to 29th in the lineup.
The 37-year-old calmly worked his way through traffic, picking off positions on his march back towards the front, eventually taking the lead that lasted 33 laps before Kyle Busch, Harvick and Chase Elliott made they're way past the FedEx Toyota.
"We just lacked a little speed honestly," said Hamlin, who now has three top-five finishes in four races this season. “Once we got the car hooked up there in the middle part of the race after the pit road miscue, the car took off and we ran extremely well. Once we started to lose rear grip, that's when those guys started to run us back down.”
The finish moved Hamlin up two spots to sixth in the NASCAR standings after Phoenix, 31 points behind Harvick after four of 26 regular season races.
The Series concludes its West Coast Swing at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on Sunday, March 18.