Late-Race Pit Miscue Foils Top-Five Day at Watkins GlenAugust 6, 2018
Denny Hamlin finished 13th in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Watkins Glen following a miscue on pit road during the team’s final scheduled stop on Lap 55 forced Hamlin to start at the rear of the field during the final green flag run to the checkered flag in the event won by Chase Elliott.
Hamlin started on the pole and ran in the top-five throughout the first two-thirds of the race on the 2.45-mile road course. Pit strategy called Hamlin to pit road on Lap 17 for an 18th-place finish in Stage 1, but the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota showed speed throughout and finished third in Stage 2. The plan for Hamlin, along with many of the front runners, was to make final pit stops when the fuel window opened, and the caution flew on Lap 54 for an incident on track, bringing the entire field to pit road for service.
Unfortunately, Hamlin’s rear tire was struck by Brad Keselowski, who was leaving his pit stall behind the #11, which set off a series of events that ended with Hamlin pulling away with the jack and air hose caught under the car. Two tires and the hose were sent scattering, but fortunately, did not injure any crew members. Hamlin was assessed a “tail end restart” penalty for running over pit equipment, foiling the team’s chances at the victory.
“It was just unfortunate during our final stop to have things happen that took us out of the race,” said Hamlin, the 2016 Watkins Glen winner. “We had a lot of speed in our FedEx Camry, and were well on our way to finishing in the top-five. Thankfully, none of our crew guys were seriously injured on pit road, and we’ll move on to next week.”
The finish kept Hamlin ninth in the point standings following Watkins Glen with four races remaining in the regular season. The Series returns to action on August 12 at Michigan International Speedway.