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Hamlin Charges to Fifth-Place Finish at Sonoma

June 24, 2019

Extra twists and turns added to the Sonoma Raceway road course didn’t stop Denny Hamlin from earning his seventh top-five finish and his second stage win of the 2019 season. Hamlin finished fifth Sunday after climbing back from outside the top 15 three times.

The No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota started sixth for the 90-lap race at the 12-turn, 2.52-mile course.  The circuit included the sweeping downhill corner called “The Carousel” for the first time for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series since 1997.

The team’s strategy had them pitting later than most of the leaders and caused Hamlin to have to charge back through the field three times without the help of any cautions. But the strategy also led to a stage win, with Hamlin taking the green-and-white checkered flag to end Stage 2.

“We had a really fast FedEx Camry and I drove it as hard as I could,” Hamlin said. “We committed to a strategy to get stage points. So, we might’ve given up a shot at a win, but it got us a top-five at a really challenging course and the most points of anyone in the race. I’m proud of our effort.”

The series returns to oval racing next weekend with a 400-mile event at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday, June 30.