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Hamlin Overcomes Penalty to Finish Fifth at Kentucky

July 15, 2019

A fast FedEx Freight Toyota helped Denny Hamlin battle back from a penalty to score a top-five finish at Kentucky Speedway Saturday night. The #11 team had a car capable of winning – leading laps and running in the top five for much of the race – but once again had to overcome a pit road penalty that sent the team to the back of the pack.

The race-changing penalty came late in Stage 2. Hamlin had been running second before pitting for two tires and fuel and subsequently incurring a penalty from NASCAR for an uncontrolled tire. After completing his pass-through penalty, he sat in 22nd and a lap down to the leader.

After getting the “Lucky Dog” pass to return to the lead lap, Hamlin spent Stage 3 gradually picking off positions until he returned to the top five – including leading five laps before having to peel off to pit. A late-race caution led to a green-white-checkered overtime finish, but Hamlin stood his ground in the top five and crossed the line in fifth as Kurt Busch scored the win.

“We had a fast FedEx Freight Toyota, but we got hurt by a penalty,” Hamlin said. “The reason we were able to rally is because we had a fast car and some good restarts at the end, and we were able to fight our way back up there. I’m proud of the speed we bring to the race track every week, but we’ve still got to work on our execution.”

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to New England on Sunday, July 21, for a 301-lap event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.