It was a dominating day for Denny Hamlin who was making his 500th career Cup Series start this weekend at Dover. Hamlin made it even more special by qualifying on the pole which gave him great track position to begin the race.
Hamlin was strong early in his No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camary and led almost every lap. The car was strong enough that Hamlin ended Stage 1 as the victor. After the pit stops, he was still able to maintain his lead for the most part in Stage 2.
However, on Lap 229 Hamlin was passed by his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. for the lead. It would be the last time we saw Hamlin out front, as he would have a challenging car while being stuck back in traffic.
At the end of the day, it wasn’t the result the No. 11 team wanted with Hamlin finishing fifth after leading nearly half the race despite a potential engine issue, only to come up short.
“I didn’t do a good job under caution, I missed a shift there on that last restart,” Hamlin described to MRN Radio. “It’s just unfortunate, I didn’t do my best, but I’m proud of the effort we had today. We did a hell of a job with our racecar. I just didn’t quite keep up with the race track. This is by far the best race I had at this race track. So, really happy with that result and happy we could go out there, compete and lead laps at this track.”
The fifth-place finish was Hamlin’s 15th top five of the season. He also led 218 laps, won Stage 1 and finished third in Stage 2.