Hamlin Earns 11th-Place Finish at Atlanta, Stays atop Point StandingsFebruary 25, 2019
Denny Hamlin and the #11 FedEx team finished 11th Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, allowing Hamlin to maintain his spot atop the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship standings.
Starting fourth in the FedEx Ground Toyota for the 500-mile event, Hamlin dealt with a tight-handling car for much of the first two race stages. Crew chief Chris Gabehart and the #11 crew made chassis and air pressure adjustments over multiple pit stops to help the car turn the corners better, allowing Hamlin to climb as high as third.
Hamlin’s progress was hurt twice by caution flags that came out immediately after #11 team green-flag pit stops, including once in Stage 3 as he ran in the top 10. Forced to restart 20th, Hamlin then pushed his way back into the top 15. A late-race loose condition prevented him from cracking the top 10, and he crossed the finish line in 11th.
Combining Sunday’s result with last weekend’s win in the Daytona 500, Hamlin now leads second-place Kevin Harvick in the championship standings by eight points.
“Passing was pretty tough here already, and the handling of our FedEx Ground Toyota kept us from being as aggressive as we wanted to be,” Hamlin said. “But we’re still leading the points, and we’ll be ready to get back at it next week in Las Vegas and pad our lead a little more.”
The series now heads west for a three-race swing, beginning Sunday, March 3, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.