Hamlin Finishes 12th in 2018 Season FinaleNovember 19, 2018
Denny Hamlin drove the #11 FedEx Express Toyota to a 12th-place finish in the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season finale event at Homestead-Miami Speedway won by Joey Logano who captured his first Cup Series Championship.
Hamlin edged out his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch for the pole during Friday’s night’s qualifying session, and he led the field to the green flag to begin Sunday’s 267-lap event.
Hamlin showed the way for the first 36 laps, maintaining an almost three-second lead over second-place before the first round of green-flag pit stops began. He cycled back through as the race leader by lap 41, but slowly fell outside of the top-five as he battled tight conditions in the segment’s closing laps to ultimately finish sixth at the conclusion of Stage 1.
After a setback on pit road during the first Stage break relegated the FedEx Racing team to 17th, Hamlin fought his way back to eighth to finish Stage 2. He started the final 107-lap segment from the same position, climbing his way through the top-10 as the laps ticked.
Hamlin lined up eighth for the race’s final 15-lap shootout, but faded outside the top-10 as he battled a complete lack of grip, crossing the line in 12th when the checkered flag flew.
“Tonight obviously produced a different result than we hoped for, and the handling just wasn’t where it needed to be in the end,” said Hamlin. “Still, I’m proud of the all the work the FedEx Racing team put in this year, and we’ll hold our heads high as we move our focus to 2019.”
Hamlin finished 11th in the final Series standings, recording four poles, 10 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes during his 2018 campaign.
Hamlin’s on-track performance during the 2018 season also resulted in a $42,180 donation to Safe Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit working to protect kids on the road, at home and at play, through the Delivering Laps for FedEx Cares program. Starting with the 2018 DAYTONA 500, FedEx made a $111 donation for each lap Hamlin led with The Denny Hamlin Foundation prepared to match this year’s contribution that will result in a total donation of $84,360.
Drivers and teams will enjoy the off season before returning to Daytona International Speedway to begin the 2019 season with the DAYTONA 500 on February 17, 2019.