Coming into Kentucky Speedway, Denny Hamlin had finishes of 15th at Chicago and 26th at Daytona. After being involved in a big wreck last weekend at Daytona, Hamlin and his No. 11 crew were hoping to rebound at the 1.5-mile track.
Hamlin finished fourth in Stage 1 but received a penalty for an uncontrolled tire in Stage 2 leaving him with a 22nd place finish in the second stage. He worked hard all night, even leading for five laps before Hamlin had to make his final pit stop of the night. The late race caution gave the No. 11 team another shot at the win. Unfortunately, Hamlin would have to wait until New Hampshire for a shot at the win, as he wound up fifth at Kentucky.
Still, Hamlin was somewhat satisfied with his top five finish.
“We definitely had a fast car, a car that was fast enough to run up there with those guys,” Hamlin said in his interview with PRN. “Obviously, being back in the pack there with 80 to go was detrimental to try and win the race. We had to make the call with no tires there, we didn’t gain any track position, and we had worse tires than anyone around us. Still was able to get up to fifth, so pretty happy with that effort.”
“We have fast cars every week, as long as we have a clean race, we have chances to win and we just can’t have the penalties or the wrecks we have. You know, it’s just a combination of things and we’re really close.”
The fifth-place finish was Hamlin’s eighth top-five of the year. He is looking forward to New Hampshire this coming weekend, where he won in 2017.