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Hamlin Starts Chase Off with Sixth-Place Finish at Chicagoland

September 19, 2016

Denny Hamlin finished sixth in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway, running near the front of the field throughout the 270-lap event won by Martin Truex Jr. and putting the FedEx Racing Team in solid position after the first event of the Chase playoffs.

Hamlin was running third when the yellow waved four laps shy of the finish, sending the race to overtime. Crew chief Mike Wheeler and Hamlin decided to follow the leaders to pit road for fresh rubber for the green-white-checker finish. The stop moved Hamlin back to seventh for the two-lap shootout, but following the restart, the #11 was only able to gain one spot after the last set of tires made the car too tight coming to the checkers.

“We did the best we could so I thought we were a third place car and we ended up sixth, I can't be too disappointed with that,” said Hamlin. “We lacked a little bit of speed compared to the best car, but this FedEx team is still in the game after the first Chase race and that's what matters.”

After starting third, Hamlin battled a car that was too loose early on, but the team kept dialing the car in and Hamlin was able to run among the top-10 throughout the entire race. The sixth-place finish marks Hamlin's ninth consecutive top-10, a career-best for the driver.   

Hamlin now sits fourth in the Chase standings, five points behind leader Martin Truex Jr., after the first of three races in the Round of 16.

The Series returns to action next Sunday, September 25, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.