Hamlin Clinches Berth in Championship Race with Victory at PhoenixNovember 11, 2019
Denny Hamlin dominated Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway to clinch a berth in next weekend’s championship finale in the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Hamlin survived a late-race restart with three laps to go to capture his sixth victory of the season, crossing the finish line 0.377-seconds ahead of teammate Kyle Busch. Hamlin and Busch will race Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick for the championship next Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“This FedEx team brought me such a fast car today,” said Hamlin, who recorded his 37th-career win on Sunday. “We know what we are capable of, and today we showed that. Chris (Gabehart, crew chief) had these guys ready for today, and I had to do my job. I’m excited for the opportunity next week.”
Hamlin started third and worked his way to the lead at the end of Stage 1 to take the segment win. He was battling Busch and Joey Logano in points for the final Playoff transfer spots, and with both competitors earning stage points, Hamlin knew he had to win to advance.
He finished second in Stage 2 and then lined up in that position alongside Logano for the final segment. Hamlin passed Logano on Lap 177 and opened up more than a 10-second lead on the field during a long green flag run. A late-race caution set up the final dash to the finish line.
“I know that this team will be ready next Sunday at Homestead,” continued Hamlin. “We have had a lot of success there in the past, and our FedEx team is up for another challenge.”
The win tied Hamlin with NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Isaac for 22nd on the all-time wins list at stock car racing’s highest level.
Hamlin now has six wins and 19 top-five finishes in 35 races this season.