Wreck Relegates Hamlin to 34th at TexasApril 9, 2018
Denny Hamlin spun in Turn 3 early in the final stage of Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, incurring heavy damage after contact with a number of cars and ending the #11 FedEx Racing Team’s day early in 34th place in the event won by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch.
Hamlin lined up ninth for the restart to begin the final stage, and the leaders jockeyed for position on the opening lap. Hamlin saw a window to pass on the inside line in Turn 3, but was crowded down a bit by Aric Almirola. The loss of sideforce from the aerodynamics loosened up the #11 machine, and Hamlin was sent spinning in the middle of the track. Unfortunately, he was collected by Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson, causing extensive damage to the car.
“These restarts are so important to make passes to try to get to the front,” said Hamlin, following the incident. “I had a hole down low and tried to fill it, but the 10 (Almirola) came down a bit and took all the air off my spoiler. At that point, I was along for the ride.”
Hamlin started fifth and ran among the leaders in the opening laps. However, a speeding penalty during the team’s first stop on Lap 55 sent him back in the order, one lap down. He earned the free pass at the end of the stage, but an additional penalty during the break for an uncontrolled tire sent the #11 back again to start Stage 2. Hamlin spent that entire segment trying to make up track position, eventually finishing eighth at the race’s midpoint.
Busch held off Kevin Harvick for the checkered flag, with Jamie McMurray, Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano rounding out the top five.
The finish dropped Hamlin three spots to ninth in the overall standings following Texas. The Series returns to action on Sunday, April 15 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.