Hamlin Rallies for Top-10 Finish in Calif.March 19, 2018
Denny Hamlin finished sixth in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway, rebounding from an early error on pit road to score his fourth top-10 finish of the season.
The first yellow flag of the day waved on lap 39 for a single-car incident with Hamlin running 11th in the #11 FedEx Express Toyota. The caution allowed Hamlin to make his way to pit road for his second stop of the day for four tires and fuel, however upon entering his stall, he slightly overshot his marks and was forced to correct his mistake, costing the #11 FedEx team 10 positions in the race off pit road. Despite the setback, Hamlin worked to remedy the error, and he capitalized on his long-run speed throughout the remainder of the 400-mile race to find his spot amongst the field’s top 10.
"We were exceptional during the long green-flag runs today, but I definitely struggled to keep up on the restarts and short runs,” said Hamlin. “We were really in it with the leaders there at the end of the race, we just didn’t have enough time to get it done. Overall though, a good day for our FedEx team and a solid way to finish the West Coast swing.”
Hamlin started Sunday’s event from 25th after his #11 FedEx Express Toyota failed to pass through pre-qualifying technical inspection in time for Friday’s qualifying session. Despite having to start towards the rear of the field, Hamlin gained 10 positions during the race’s first 15 laps. He continued to make his way towards the front of the pack, running in the field’s top-10 for the majority of the race and earning bonus points in each of the races first two stages, finishing 10th and fourth respectively.
Hamlin remains sixth in the overall points standings after his sixth-place finish at Auto Club, trailing 40 points behind new points leader Martin Truex Jr. after five races this season.
After a three-week stint out West, the Series makes its way back to the East Coast for short track racing at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, March 25.