Hamlin Finishes 10th, Moves to Second in Eliminator StandingsNovember 4, 2014
Denny Hamlin finished 10th in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Texas Motor Speedway, fighting an ill-handling #11 FedEx Office Toyota throughout the 334-lap event won by Jimmie Johnson at the fast 1.5-mile oval.
With a top-five in his sights, Denny lined up seventh for the last of two green-white-checker restarts. Hamlin’s top-five hopes were dashed when Jamie McMurray and Dale Earnhardt Jr. raced each other hard putting the FedEx car three-wide in the process, killing his momentum coming to the checkers, resulting in Hamlin’s 16th top-10 finish of the season.
"We couldn’t find the balance we needed to get up there and race with the leaders,” said Hamlin after the race. “We made the best of it. Other guys made mistakes. We weren't really that good. Luckily other guys had problems."
The result placed Hamlin in a tie with Joey Logano for the lead in the Eliminator Round point standings but ranked second due to Logano’s win in early October.
When the green flag dropped Denny started moving forward, advancing five spots in the first 18 laps but the handling started to go away from that point on.
During a caution just past the halfway point, the FedEx car led for three laps after the team made a two-tire stop to try and establish favorable track position. A much needed caution foiled the track position gamble and Denny fell back to 14th.
Crew chief Darian Grubb tried different strategies and made varying adjustments to the chassis, but the team could never get the balance dialed in that Hamlin needed to challenge the leaders.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to action on Sunday, November 9th at Phoenix International Raceway.