Hamlin Finishes 11th in TexasApril 13, 2015
Denny Hamlin finished 11th in Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, overcoming an early penalty on pit road to battle at the front of the field for the final third of the event won by Jimmie Johnson.
Hamlin restarted 10th after the final caution with 25 laps to go, but was unable to make up spots before the checkered flag, racing side-by-side with a variety of competitors in a thrilling finish to the 334-lap race on the 1.5-mile track.
"We overcame a lot tonight, and just couldn't make up spots on that last restart," said Hamlin. "We took four tires and got back in a little bit of traffic. We didn't have the speed we needed throughout the night, but we kept working on the car and were there at the end."
Hamlin, a two-time Texas winner, started 18th and immediately felt an issue with the car's handling from the drop of the green flag.
"It just wouldn't turn at all, and I wasn't sure why," said Hamlin. "Fortunately, it came to me as the race wore on."
Crew chief Dave Rogers called for a long list of changes during the first handful of pit stops, including wedge, track bar, spring rubber, shock and air pressure adjustments.
During one stop, Hamlin was penalized for driving through too many pit boxes after exiting his, and he was forced to restart at the tail end of the field. He drove through the traffic and benefited from another caution after a round of green flag stops to get back his track position.
A string of late-race cautions saw teams use a variety of pit and tire strategies before the checkered flag.
The finish dropped Hamlin one spot to eighth in the NASCAR standings following Texas, 101 points behind leader Kevin Harvick after seven of 26 regular season races. Hamlin's win at Martinsville two weeks ago keeps him fifth in the Chase playoff standings.
The Series returns to action next Sunday, April 19, at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.