Hamlin Finishes 16th at Richmond RacewaySeptember 24, 2018
Denny Hamlin finished 16th in Saturday night’s Playoffs race at Richmond Raceway, unable to overcome an early-race spin and a loose-handling #11 FedEx Office Toyota in the 300-mile event won by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate and fellow Playoff contender, Kyle Busch.
Hamlin qualified on the front row for Saturday night’s event, but fell right outside of the top-five in the opening laps as he battled loose handling conditions. After completing only 53 circuits around the .75-mile raceway, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. made contact with Hamlin’s rear bumper, sending him soaring down the track, but the FedEx Racing driver was able to keep the car under control and prevented the #11 from sustaining any significant damage.
The race stayed green during the incident, but Hamlin was forced to pit road to assess potential damage. The unscheduled green-flag stop put Hamlin one lap down in 26th, but with four fresh tires, he rallied to regain his position on the lead lap and ultimately fought his way through the pack to finish ninth when the first segment concluded.
After another four-tire stop during the Stage break, Hamlin started the second 100-lap segment from ninth. A majority of the leaders elected to pit midway through the Stage, however Hamlin remained on track for the entirety of the segment in an effort to conserve tires, and he finished 15th when the second yellow-checkered flew.
Hamlin started the race’s final Stage from 14th, falling a lap down on lap 323 right before his scheduled green-flag stop. As the #11 was being serviced, an untimely caution for a single-car wreck trapped Hamlin another lap down. The team took advantage of the wave around, however Hamlin still remained one lap down in 16th where he ultimately finished when the checkered flew.
“We had a fast car all weekend, and unfortunately we could not get that to translate into race trim,” said Hamlin, a three-time Richmond winner. “We’ll definitely have to give it all we got at the Roval next weekend if want to advance (to the next Round of Playoffs), and that’s what we’ll work to do.”
Following Saturday night’s result at Richmond, Hamlin remains 16th in the overall NASCAR Playoffs standings, 29 points below the final 12th-place transfer spot.
The Series makes its debut at the Charlotte Roval next Sunday, Sept. 23, for the first cut-off race in the 2018 NASCAR Playoffs.