Hamlin Notches Another Top-10 at PoconoJuly 30, 2018
Denny Hamlin finished 10th in Sunday's 160-lap event at the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway, fighting a tight #11 FedEx Express Toyota notching his 11th top-10 of the season.
Hamlin, a four-time Pocono winner started the race from the second position and maintained that position until the FedEx team set their strategy early on by pitting at lap 22 of the 50-lap Stage. The strategy paid dividends, allowing Hamlin to take the lead after the field cycled through the pit stops. Hamlin led five laps before a tight condition he was fighting gave a hard charging Chase Elliott the opening he needed to take over the top spot. Hamlin eventually crossed the line third at the conclusion of Stage 1.
Following a four-tire stop and much needed adjustments, Hamlin lined up seventh for the start of Stage 2. As the segment progressed and Hamlin's tight condition returned, Crew Chief Mike Wheeler reset the teams strategy by pitting after 25 laps in an effort to duplicate their Stage 1 result. However, the caution waved eight laps later, forcing the team to change their strategy. Three laps prior to the end of Stage 2, Wheeler called Hamlin to pit road in an effort to gain valuable track position for the start of the final segment.
Lining up fifth for the final Stage, Hamlin not only continued to struggle with the tight condition he had been experiencing, but the car wasn't responding well on restarts, costing the #11 positions in the process. A flurry of cautions at the end of the race spoiled any chance for Hamlin to attempt to challenge for the win, resulting in the 10th place finish.
"I felt like we definitely had a top-five car today, but between the handling and the problem we had with restarts, those two things pretty much ruined our chances," said Hamlin. "We still have some work to do the get our cars to handle better, but I'm confident we'll get the FedEx car in victory lane soon."
Following Sunday's finish at Pocono, Hamlin picked up one spot to ninth in the overall NASCAR point standings with five events remaining in the 2018 regular season. The series returns to action next Sunday, August 5th, at Watkins Glen.