Hamlin Finishes 12th in Rain-Shortened Michigan RaceJune 11, 2018
Denny Hamlin came back from a 36th place starting spot to finish 12th in the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota in Sunday's rain-shortened Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway, won by Clint Bowyer.
Hamlin qualified 10th but had to drop to the rear of the field prior to the start after receiving a pre-race inspection penalty for a non-compliant splitter on the nose of #11. Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Erik Jones were also penalized for non-compliant splitters.
Following the penalty, the team, knowing that track position would be at a premium during the race, set their strategy up to take care of the tires in the beginning, setting up a two-tire stop during the lap 25 competition caution.
Hamlin worked his way up to 21st prior to the competition caution and the strategy paid dividends as Hamlin lined up third following the two-tire stop.
Hamlin crossed the line fifth at the conclusion of Stage 1. However, that would be the last time during the event that the FedEx car would be in the top-five, as Hamlin struggled during every restart with a loose condition in the early stages of the run, as well as having to line up in the undesirable bottom lane for most of the restarts.
With overcast skies and the threat of inclement weather moving in, Hamlin tried to stay in the top-10, but was hampered by the handling and a vibration that developed on the FedEx Toyota just prior to the end of Stage 2, finishing the Stage 11th.
A quick stop by the FedEx pit crew allowed Hamlin to start the final Stage ninth, but the issues with the restarts continued and Hamlin
lost three spots before a spinning car brought out the caution after five laps. During the caution the rain began to fall, eventually ending the race, trapping Hamlin in the 12th place finishing position, 67 laps short of the scheduled distance.
“We had a really fast FedEx car, we just didn’t get to show it," said Hamlin. "Got stuck in the bottom line on all but one restart and just – we just had a very good car. Just never got to get up there and race and show it and that’s frustrating, but can’t help the weather.”
Hamlin remains eighth in the overall NASCAR point standings. The Series returns to action Sunday, June 24th at Sonoma Raceway.