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Race Report: Bristol

August 25, 2014

Courtesy of FedEX Racing

Denny Hamlin finished 40th in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, after being spun from behind as the leader in the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota on Lap 160 of the 500-lap event won by Joey Logano.

Hamlin started 13th and showed from the drop of the green flag to be one of the early favorites to win the race. The preferred outside groove put passing at a premium on the high-banked, half-mile oval, but the #11 machine was one of only a handful of cars that could make the bottom work.

Hamlin worked his way up to ninth by the Lap 62 competition caution and restarted seventh after a four-tire stop on pit road. After another quick yellow, Hamlin continued to pick off positions on the track, moving into the top-five before a multi-car incident on Lap 126 slowed the field again.

Interim crew chief Mike Wheeler called for a two-tire stop that gave Hamlin the lead for the ensuing restart. Hamlin, the 2012 Bristol night race winner, led the field for 28 laps and was working lapped traffic when second place Kevin Harvick made contact with the back of the #11 Toyota, sending Hamlin spinning on the frontstretch and into the retaining wall. Momentum carried Hamlin back across the track, where he collected Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“It’s very disappointing to lose this opportunity to compete for a win,” said Hamlin, who was uninjured in the incident. “These short tracks are where we have to capitalize and we know we can run up front, so it’s frustrating to get taken out because of a mistake by someone else.”

The damage to the #11 machine, unfortunately, was too significant to continue, and the team retired after 160 laps in 40th place.

Hamlin remains in 20th position in the NASCAR standings after Bristol, with two races remaining before the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship begins.