Late Race Crash Relegates Hamlin to 26th at DaytonaJuly 8, 2019
Denny Hamlin finished 26th in the #11 FedEx Office Toyota after being collected in a late-race multi-car wreck in Sunday’s rain-postponed race at Daytona International Speedway. Following a lengthy weather delay, 20-year-old Justin Haley was declared the race winner, 33 laps short of the scheduled 160-lap distance.
Hamlin started sixth and tried various drafting lines to try and improve his position, eventually finishing eighth in Stage 1. Stage 2 was much of the same, although the #11 fell back as far as 20th in the field before making a comeback, crossing the line 11th at the conclusion of the segment.
Lining up 14th for the final segment, Hamlin began his charge through the field, taking the #11 car three-wide in traffic, bold moves by Hamlin propelled the FedEx car to the lead after just 17 laps of racing in the stage. After leading five laps, Hamlin was at the front of the bottom line of cars when Austin Dillon and Clint Bowyer made a run on the outside. As the two drivers jockeyed for position, they tangled in front of Hamlin who had nowhere to go and was collected in the ensuing melee that claimed a total of 18 cars.
The FedEx team worked on the damaged car during multiple pit stops but lost two laps in the process. During the caution, NASCAR was forced to red-flag the race due to lightning in the area. Following two hours and 12 minutes of lightning and rain, the race was declared official.
“It’s really unfortunate that we were caught up in someone else’s mess,” said Hamlin. “I was working the draft all day and finally made the right moves to get the FedEx Toyota to the front, we were in the perfect position, only to get taken out just before the race was stopped.”
The finish kept Hamlin in sixth in the NASCAR standings following Daytona. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads next to Kentucky Motor Speedway for a 400-mile event on Saturday, July 13.