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Hamlin Fights Tough-Handling Car to Finish 15th at Las Vegas

September 16, 2019

A top-10 finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway slipped from Denny Hamlin’s grasp in the last stage of the race Sunday night, as a change in the FedEx Toyota’s handling led to the No. 11 team finishing 15th.

Hamlin started 13th but got the FedEx Ground Camry running in the top 10 by Lap 25. Despite his car not handling as well as he wanted, he was able to keep it in the top 10 for the first two stages. He even took the lead for a Lap 185 restart during Stage 3 after rolling the dice on a two-tire pit stop.

The car’s handling took a turn for the worse from there, sending Hamlin on a backward slide that saw him as low as 25th on the leaderboard. He climbed back in the final 40 laps to cross the finish line in 15th.

“We had a pretty decent FedEx Camry for the early part of the race, and then something happened with the handling where we went dead backwards,” Hamlin said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a car – without damage – change handling as much as that did. But we’ll take it back to the shop and figure it out, and we won’t let it affect us. We’ll go to Richmond and get back to work.”

The result dipped Hamlin to seventh in points. The second race of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs takes Hamlin to his hometown track of Richmond Raceway for a Saturday night race on Sept. 21.