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Hamlin Escapes with Top 15 Finish at Kansas

October 22, 2018

Denny Hamlin finished 14th in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway, after sustaining front-end damage early on in the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, collecting his 25th top-15 this season in the 400-mile event won by Chase Elliott.

Hamlin started the race from ninth and maintained that spot through the first pit stop and until the first caution waved at lap 57. On the ensuing restart, the cars ahead stacked up in front of the #11 and Hamlin ran into the back of Jamie McMurray. The contact damaged the front grill of the FedEx Toyota, ruining the aerodynamics in the process. Hamlin was able to continue, but dropped back following the incident and the team waited until Stage 1 concluded to address the damage.

The FedEx team took advantage of the final two Stage breaks to make multiple pit stops to work on the damage.

The extra work during the stops relegated Hamlin to the rear of the field for the two remaining Stages. During both segments, Hamlin made his way into the top-15, but the aerodynamic disadvantage was too much to overcome and Hamlin's forward advance stalled each time he tried to break into the top-10, resulting in the 14th place finish at the checkered flag.

“From the start, I felt like we had a top-five FedEx Toyota today, but we didn't have a chance to show it because of the damage to the nose,” said Hamlin. “Those guys just checked up in front of me and I had nowhere to go. That really ruined any chance we had because no matter what the crew did, the aerodynamics were holding us back.”

Following Sunday's finish at Kansas, Hamlin moved up one spot to 12th in the overall NASCAR point standings with four events remaining in the 2018 season. The Series returns to action next Sunday, October 28, at Martinsville Speedway.