Hamlin Finishes 14th in Thunder ValleyAugust 20, 2018
Denny Hamlin finished 14th in Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway after sustaining substantial damage early on in the 500-mile event won by Kurt Busch.
Hamlin started seventh, but was quickly collected in the race’s first accident on lap two that sent the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota to pit road for repairs. The FedEx Racing team worked quickly to keep Hamlin on the lead lap, and he lined up 35th at the tail end of the field for the ensuing restart. Despite tight-handling conditions – a residual effect of the night’s earlier incident – Hamlin fought through the remainder of Stage 1 to finish 15th.
After receiving four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment during the Stage break, Hamlin lined up 12th to begin the race’s second 125-lap segment. As the tight-handling conditions persisted, Hamlin struggled to maintain his position, and he was forced to 15th by the time the second segment concluded.
Hamlin returned to track in 18th to begin the race’s final Stage following another round of tires and repairs on the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota. He moved his way into the top-10 and survived several late-race accidents to position himself third for the restart with only 13 laps to go. Unfortunately, the leader in the bottom was slow to restart as the green-flag waved, and without any momentum, Hamlin dropped back to 14th where he crossed the line to end the event.
“It’s disappointing because tonight’s results are definitely not what we expected,” said Hamlin. “That wreck early on certainly put us behind from the get-go, but we fought hard to try and come back to the front, we just struggled with long (green-flag) run speed. Bristol is always unpredictable, and we obviously saw that play out tonight.”
Following Saturday night’s finish at Bristol, Hamlin moved down one spot in the overall points standings to 10th, and is now 13th in the NASCAR Playoffs standings, 214 points above the cut-off line.
The Series will return to action on Sunday, September 2, at Darlington Raceway.