Race Report: DoverSeptember 30, 2014
Denny Hamlin finished 12th in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway and advanced to the second round of the Chase championship playoffs in the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota.
Hamlin and the FedEx Racing Team started the day 13th in the point standings, on the outside looking in, and needed a strong run in the 400-lap event on the one-mile oval to climb back into the top-12 cutoff after the first three-race playoff round. Battling a tight #11 machine throughout the race, Hamlin did enough to move into 11th in the standings after the event won by Jeff Gordon.
“We just lost the handling a little bit at the end of the race, but I knew that most of the guys we were battling in the points were behind us, so I was a little defensive at the end to make sure we could advance,” said Hamlin, who will have his points reset with the other “Contender Round” drivers for the next three-race segment. “It was a total team effort today in Dover, and I’m so proud of the entire FedEx team.”
Hamlin started third and remained in the top-10 for the majority of the race. Excellent work on pit road by the FedEx crew gained him a handful of spots on virtually every stop, but a tight condition throughout the corner prevented the #11 machine from making up ground on the race track.
The race’s final caution came on Lap 255, and after the restart on 260 with Hamlin in seventh, the final 140 laps were run under green.
Hamlin and the FedEx team now move onto the Contender Round, beginning next weekend at Kansas Speedway (Oct. 5), and the three-race segment with include races at Kansas, Charlotte Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, where Hamlin won at in May.
Aric Almirola, AJ Allmendinger, Kurt Busch and Greg Biffle were the four teams eliminated from the playoffs.