FedEx Racing Comes Up One Lap ShortAugust 3, 2015
Denny Hamlin finished 22nd in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway after running out of fuel on the last lap in the #11 FedEx Office Toyota while running seventh in the 160-lap event won by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth.
Hamlin made his final pit stop with 36 laps to go, as did most of the leaders. With eight cautions waving in the first 90 laps, the teams were gambling more would follow. But as the laps clicked and the field stretched out under green, crew chief Dave Rogers told Hamlin to conserve as much fuel as possible. But it wouldn’t be enough, as fuel tanks ran dry in the waning laps on many of the frontrunners, including the FedEx Toyota just as Hamlin crossed the finish line, one lap short of the checkered flag.
“I was doing everything I could think of to save fuel, but we got all strung out after that last caution and all I could do was roll in and out of the throttle in the corners,” said Hamlin. “We just needed one more caution.”
Starting 11th, Hamlin battled at tight car from the beginning, but the team was able to make a variety of adjustments during a flurry of early cautions. Varying strategies on pit road and a well-timed caution moved Hamlin up to fourth by lap 48.
While running fourth, just prior to the mid-point of the race, Hamlin began having issues shifting from third to fourth gear. The team considered changing the faulty gearbox, but decided to keep Hamlin out and take a chance that it would make it to the end.
“I was shifting from third to fourth gear on a restart and the transmission was hanging up in third,” Hamlin said. “I had to use the clutch to shift during the rest of the race, I’m just glad it didn’t get any worse.”
The finish dropped Hamlin one spot to 11th in the NASCAR standings, 166 points behind leader Kevin Harvick after 21 of 26 regular season races.
The Series returns to action next Sunday, August 9 at Watkins Glen, NY.