Hamlin Rallies for Runner-Up Finish in DoverOctober 8, 2018
Denny Hamlin finished second in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, capitalizing on a pair of late-race cautions to secure his best finish of the 2018 and career-best result at the “Monster Mile.”
Hamlin lined up second alongside Chase Elliott for a two-lap overtime shootout, but was never able to challenge for the victory, crossing the finish line 0.265 seconds behind Elliott.
“(Elliott) did a remarkable job on those old tires,” said Hamlin, who posted his eighth top-five finish of the year. “The outside line was the preferred line on the restart, and with us on the bottom, we couldn’t get the launch we needed to go after him. However, it was a step in the right direction for our FedEx team and I’m excited to get back to the track and go for a win.”
Hamlin started 15th after rain on Friday cancelled qualifying, and he methodically moved up in the running order during the race’s first two stages. His strong suit was the long run, utilizing stretched out green flag stints to pick off positions. He finished 12th in Stage 1 and ninth in Stage 2.
In the race’s final stage, Hamlin felt a vibration in the car develop after 40 laps, and was forced to pit earlier in the window than preferred. Once stops cycled through among the leaders, Hamlin found himself in sixth place, but with 20 lap older tires to his competitors. A timely caution came shortly after, and Hamlin was able to maintain his position.
Another caution came with 10 laps to go, and crew chief Mike Wheeler called for right-side tires. Hamlin restarted fourth and catapulted to second before a wreck behind him brought out the race’s final caution, setting up the overtime finish.
The finish kept Hamlin 15th in the point standings following Dover. The Series returns to action on Sunday, Oct. 14 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.