Race Report: RichmondSeptember 9, 2014
Denny Hamlin finished 21st in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway, battling an ill-handling #11 FedEx Express Toyota throughout the 400-lap event on the three-quarter-mile track won by Brad Keselowski.
Hamlin, a two-time Richmond winner, started 11th and quickly worked into the top-10 on his hometown track. He pitted from seventh under the Lap 50 competition caution, and remained near the front of the field throughout the second run.
However, following his second pit stop of the night under caution, Hamlin said the handling went away on the #11 machine, and he slid back to 15th, falling a lap down to Keselowski in the process. He remained in position for the “free pass” after a series of green flag stops, but the caution never came.
As the laps clicked, Hamlin continued to battle a loose condition on corner entry and exit, and interim crew chief Mike Wheeler called him to pit road to “short pit” with 90 laps remaining, hoping to have the race go green the distance to make up time on the leaders. Unfortunately, the yellow came out 17 laps later, trapping Hamlin two laps down and relegating the FedEx team to a 21st-place result.
Hamlin and the team now look to the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship beginning Sunday, Sept. 14 at Chicagoland Speedway. Hamlin -- competing in his eighth-career Chase -- will start the 10-race playoff as the ninth seed.