Hamlin, FedEx Racing Finish 15th at Chicagoland SpeedwayJuly 1, 2019
Denny Hamlin finished 15th in Sunday’s rain-delayed Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway, following an on-track incident in Stage 2 that caused significant damage to the #11 FedEx Express Toyota in the event won by Alex Bowman.
During a pit stop under caution on Lap 105, NASCAR deemed the FedEx crew had an “uncontrolled tire,” which forced Hamlin to give up his fourth-place position to restart at the tail end of the field. The lost track position put #11 machine back in traffic, and Hamlin spent the majority of the second segment mired back in the field.
Late in Stage 2, Hamlin got a huge run coming off Turn 4, and made contact with Daniel Suarez, causing heavy right-front damage to the #11 Camry. He limped to the stage break and pitted multiple times for repairs. Ultimately, the damage caused an ill-handling race car, and Hamlin rallied to finish 15th in the event.
“We had a very strong FedEx Camry this weekend, but unfortunately, had a penalty in the second stage that ruined our day,” said Hamlin, the 2015 winner at Chicagoland. “Track position is so important, and once we lost that, our car didn’t handle quite as well and we were back in traffic when we got into the 41 (Suarez). It was a tough end of the day for us, but we’ll take the positives and move on.”
Hamlin started ninth, and was up to eighth by Lap 11 when lightning and a strong storm system rolled through the track. The race was red-flagged for nearly three hours.
Upon resumption, Hamlin pitted for fresh tires, and crew chief Chris Gabehart employed exemplary pit strategy in Stage 1. Hamlin made his second stop with just five laps to go in the stage, and with others on varying strategies, he assumed the lead. The caution flew two laps later for an on-track incident, and Hamlin won the stage. It was his third segment win of the season and came with an additional playoff point.
The finish kept Hamlin in sixth in the NASCAR standings following Chicagoland, 103 points behind leader Joey Logano after 17 of 26 regular season races. The Series returns to action on Saturday, July 6 at Daytona International Speedway.