Hamlin Finishes Fourth in All-Star RaceMay 21, 2018
Denny Hamlin fought his way to a fourth-place finish in Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, a non-points event that awards $1 million to the race winner.
Hamlin lined up sixth in the #11 FedEx Express Toyota for the race’s final 10-lap dash to the finish, and he made his way to third before a caution tightened up the field for a restart with only two laps remaining. Hamlin lined up on the inside row behind his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Daniel Suarez, and together, the two took off, battling a hard-charging Kevin Harvick in the outside groove. Hamlin and Suarez did their best to thwart off the No. 4 car, but Harvick’s speed was too much to overcome.
“We had a shot at the lead, but each time we made it towards the front of the pack, we only had enough speed to play defense,” said Hamlin, the 2015 All-Star winner. “The 19 (Suarez) and I did a really great job there at the end trying to find our speed on the bottom, but I just came off his bumper there slightly, and we couldn’t get free of the 4 (Harvick).”
After sustaining right-rear fender damage during the first Stage, Hamlin fell as far back as 19th before rallying to the front. By Stage 3, Hamlin capitalized on the tight-pack racing and elected to refrain from making any additional pit stops, and he positioned himself as a strong contender for the race lead as the remaining laps ticked.
Qualifying for the 80-lap Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race follows an unconventional format that consists of three timed laps, one of those laps including a mandatory four-tire pit stop with no speed limit enforced on pit road. Hamlin’s on-track laps times had him on pace for a solid qualifying effort during Friday evening’s session, but in an attempt to get all the speed he could out of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, he overshot his pit stall, costing the team additional time during their stop. An uncontrolled tire during the quick change resulted in an additional penalty and a 135.866 time overall, putting Hamlin in 14th for the Saturday night race.
The Series will return to Charlotte Motor Speedway next Sunday, May 27, for the Coca-Cola 600.