Hamlin Scores Top-Five Finish in Return to RacingMay 18, 2020
Denny Hamlin battled the track “Too Tough to Tame” for a top-five finish in NASCAR’s return to live racing on Sunday. Hamlin finished fifth at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway in the Cup Series’ first event since going on hiatus in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The #11 “Thank You FedEx Team Members” Toyota lined up 10th by virtue of a random draw for the one-day event. With no practice or qualifying laps before the green flag, Hamlin had to assess the car for the first time during the first part of the race. The FedEx Racing team had brought a fast car – they just worked on slight handling issues through the 400-mile event.
Hamlin remained in the top 10 throughout the afternoon, but never had enough to challenge for the lead. Kevin Harvick dominated much of the race for the win, leading 159 of the 293 laps.
“Obviously, we always want to win, but we’ll take a top-five in the first race back with no practice or qualifying,” Hamlin said. “Our FedEx Camry was pretty fast, but we just have to try to tweak a few things before coming back on Wednesday. I’m proud of our team for everything that went into getting ready for this race under the conditions. We’ll get better and we’ll be back.”
The fifth-place finish bumped Hamlin up to sixth in championship points. The Cup Series makes a quick return to Darlington for its next race on Wednesday night.