Hamlin Claims Hard Earned Third at MartinsvilleNovember 3, 2015
Denny Hamlin finished third in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway, battling back from an accident and two pit road speeding penalties to record his 11th top-five finish in 20 starts at the half-mile Virginia track.
After a red flag late in the race to clean up an accident scene following a crash involving Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth, Hamlin, running 12th at the time, stayed out to take advantage of the leaders pitting and take over the top spot for the restart with 41 laps to go. Hamlin led for three laps before giving way to AJ Allmendinger.
Two more cautions would wave prior to the finish dropping the #11 as far back as seventh. On the final restart, Hamlin lined up fifth for a two lap shootout and picked off Martin Truex Jr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr. coming to the checkers behind Gordon and Jamie McMurray.
“My race was eventful to say the least – a wreck and two pit road speeding penalties,” said Hamlin, a five-time Martinsville winner. “My car wasn’t very good at all up until the very, very end and we just took a long time to get going. It’s just part of it. This racing now is different now than what it used to be when I first came in the sport and its just survival of the fittest.”
Hamlin started 10th and immediately began fighting a tight FedEx Toyota, suffering the first speeding penalty during the first stop of the day, forcing Hamlin to line up at the tail end of the field. The penalty led to Hamlin being caught up in an accident when he was hit from behind as the field bunched up in front of him. Hamlin spun and the FedEx car sustained front end damage, requiring two stops under caution to repair.
Hamlin worked his way back up to fourth prior to his second speeding penalty that came during his final stop of the day, dropping him to 19th with 74 laps to go, setting him up for his charge to third as the checkers waved.
The finish by Hamlin kept him ninth in the NASCAR standings with three races left in the season. The series returns to action on Sunday, November 8 at Texas Motor Speedway.