Hamlin Finishes Fourth for FedEx Racing in Daytona 500February 24, 2015
Denny Hamlin finished fourth in Sunday’s season-opening Daytona 500 in the #11 FedEx Express Toyota after a two-lap “green-white-checkered” finish in the historic event won by Joey Logano.
Hamlin lined up second alongside leader Logano for the two-lap shootout, but the bottom line never formed behind him, allowing the top line to roll to the lead before a wreck on the final lap ended the race under caution.
“You have a 50-50 shot to win the race when you’re on the front row for a restart with two to go,” said Hamlin, who has now finished inside the top-five in consecutive Daytona 500 races. “Unfortunately for us, the bottom line could never get together and we fell back. We had a strong FedEx Camry and put ourselves in position to win it, but just came up short.”
The intensity of the “Great American Race” picked up as the laps clicked, with Hamlin leading the middle lane as the draft-style pack was three-wide for eight rows with less than 20 laps remaining. Jockeying for position at the front, Hamlin nudged in front of Jimmie Johnson for second before a caution with five laps remaining brought out the yellow flag to set up the finish.
“It was intense,” said Hamlin, of the late three-wide battle for the lead. “Guys were just side-drafting everyone, so nobody could get away. The drivers have gotten smarter about being able to manipulate the air to keep guys from getting away, which made it exciting there at the end.”
Logano earned his first-career Daytona 500 win, followed by Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hamlin and Johnson. Hamlin finished runner-up to Earnhardt Jr. one year ago.
Hamlin started the race from the back of the field in 42nd after the team failed post-qualifying inspection, but the 34-year-old quickly moved forward in his 10th-career Daytona 500 start. He broke into the top-10 after the first round of green flag pit stops, and maintained his position near the front for the remainder of the 200-lap event, where he led twice for two laps.
Hamlin leaves Daytona fourth in the NASCAR standings as the Sprint Cup Series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for an event on March 1.