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Late-Race Wreck Relegates Hamlin to 32nd in Playoffs Opener

September 17, 2018

Denny Hamlin was forced to retire early from Sunday’s NASCAR Playoffs kick-off race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, collecting a 32nd-place finish after sustaining significant damage to his #11 FedEx Ground Toyota during a spin in the closing laps of the 267-lap event.

Despite fighting a tight-handling racecar for the majority of the 400-mile event, Hamlin steadily improved his position in the race’s final Stage, capitalizing on quick work by the FedEx Racing team on pit road to position himself ninth for a restart with only 30 laps remaining. As the race resumed green though, Hamlin was caught in a three-wide that relegated him to 13th, and as he worked to regain his position, he spun exiting turn four and slid into the infield grass, resulting in irreparable damage to the  #11 FedEx Ground Toyota.

“It’s unfortunate to end our day that way, and I was just pushing to get us the best possible finish we could get today,” said Hamlin. “We’ve got our work cut out for us moving forward in this round of the Playoffs, but we’re heading to tracks that I know this FedEx Racing team can contend at.”

Hamlin started Sunday’s race third and battled tight conditions early on, falling outside the top-10 as Stage 1 continued under green. He went on to finish the first 80-lap segment in 15th, then fluctuated position throughout Stage 2 to ultimately cross the line 14th as the segment concluded.

Following Sunday’s result at Las Vegas, Hamlin shifts to 16th in the NASCAR Playoffs standings, 20 points outside of the final transfer spot that would lock him into the next Playoffs Round of 12.

The Series returns to Richmond Raceway on Saturday, Sept.22, for the second race of three in the first Round of 16 of the NASCAR Playoffs.