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Faulty Roof Hatch Spoils Hamlin’s Day, FedEx Team Eliminated from Playoffs

October 26, 2015

Denny Hamlin finished 37th in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway after being forced to make two unscheduled pit stops to repair a faulty roof escape hatch on the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota in the event won by Joey Logano. The finish eliminated the FedEx team from the 2015 Chase playoffs.

Hamlin started eighth and showed from the drop of the green flag to be one of the early favorites to win the race as he quickly worked his way to the front, taking the lead after only 10 laps. Hamlin would lead twice for a total of five laps and continued to race with the leaders until the issue with the roof hatch was discovered during his second green flag pit stop, 15 laps shy of halfway.

The FedEx crew attempted to fix the problem during an unscheduled stop, but was unable, and the #11 went two laps down after stopping again under green. Hamlin tried to work his way back into contention, but due to the lack of cautions throughout the remainder of the race, couldn’t overcome the deficit.

“It’s very disappointing to have our Chase run end this way,” said Hamlin. “We showed we had a car capable of winning today and to have such a strange problem with the car makes it that much harder to accept.”

The race ended under the yellow flag after a failed green-white-checkered finish attempt triggered an accident at the finish line. Hamlin was caught up in the race ending melee and the #11 machine briefly caught fire as Hamlin brought it to a stop. Logano was declared the winner over Dale Earnhardt Jr. after NASCAR reviewed tape of the finish.

Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth were the other drivers eliminated from the Chase.

Hamlin now sits 10th in the NASCAR standings after Talladega with four races remaining in the season. The series returns to action on Sunday, November 1 at Martinsville Speedway where Hamlin has five victories.