Hamlin Comes Home Second in Thrilling New Hampshire FinishJuly 22, 2019
Denny Hamlin finished second in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, going bumper-to-bumper with eventual winner Kevin Harvick on the final lap to take the checkered flag 0.2 seconds back in the #11 FedEx Express Toyota.
The race’s final caution came with 35 laps to go with Hamlin leading. Crew chief Chris Gabehart elected to bring the #11 down pit road for right-side tires, and Hamlin lined up fourth for the final restart after three cars stayed out. Hamlin immediately jumped to second and hounded Harvick for the final 25 laps, but was unable to pass him at the end.
“We had a very fast FedEx Camry, but with the caution coming out late, we were in a tough spot knowing that guys were going to do the opposite of us,” said Hamlin. “We worked our way up from the back and led a lot of laps. I’m proud of the team’s effort, but wish we could’ve gotten that last spot.”
Hamlin started at the tail end of the field in a backup car following a crash in Friday’s opening practice. He methodically worked his way through traffic to start the race, climbing all the way to ninth by the end of Stage 1. Varying pit strategies in Stage 2 saw Hamlin take four tires with 10 laps to go in the segment, and a couple good restarts moved him to sixth at the end of that stage.
With the leaders needing to pit, Hamlin assumed the lead to start the final stage. He went on to lead the next 113 laps – his most in a race since Phoenix 2017.
The finish moved Hamlin up one spot to fourth in the NASCAR standings, 114 points behind leader Joey Logano after 20 of 26 regular season races. The Series returns to action on Sunday, July 28 at Pocono Raceway.