Hamlin Claims Third in Wild Daytona FinishJuly 7, 2015
Denny Hamlin finished third in Sunday’s rain-delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway after being involved in a huge crash that unfolded as Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the checkered flag.
Hamlin lined up third behind Dale Earnhardt Jr. after a late race caution set up a “green-white-checker” finish. On the restart, Hamlin tried to make his move on the leader, but Earnhardt Jr. had clean air, and with just two laps to work with, Hamlin and his drafting partners couldn’t get enough momentum to make a challenge.
Hamlin crossed the finish line sideways after contact from behind by Kevin Harvick triggered a multi-car accident as the checkered flag waved. During the melee in the tri-oval of the 2.5-mile superspeedway, Austin Dillon’s car went airborne and tore down part of the catchfence.
“The Hendrick cars seem to have a little more horsepower that everyone else right now, but our FedEx Toyota was able to run with them,” said Hamlin. “We got turned around there at the end, but Kevin Harvick was just trying to help, so you can’t fault him for that, I’m just glad everyone is okay.”
Hamlin was forced to start 35th in a backup FedEx Ground Toyota after getting caught up in an accident in the first practice session of the weekend. Saturday’s qualifying was also rained out setting the starting field from the first practice lap times.
The start of the race was delayed three hours, 34 minutes due to rain – the green flag waved at 11:42 p.m., but from the start, Hamlin knew he had a fast car and after just 20 laps had worked his way in to the top-10. Just past the halfway point in the race, Hamlin led for ten laps before being passed by Earnhardt Jr.
The third place finish marked Hamlin’s fourth top-five and seventh top-10 of the season and moved him up one spot to 12th in the NASCAR standings after 17 of 26 regular season races.
The series returns to action next Saturday, July 11, at Kentucky Motor Speedway.