Hamlin finds himself in hole entering Dover
Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images
Denny Hamlin stops on pit road Sunday at New Hampshire. Mechanical and on-track problems relegated Hamlin to 37th place.
If he plans to advance to the second round of this year's Chase, Denny Hamlin will have to make up a six point deficit by the conclusion of next week's race at Dover, after he dealt with mechanical and on track issues in New Hampshire.
Hamlin led 32 laps Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, came down pit road on lap 96 while running inside the top-five.
Hamlin hit pit road on lap 104 under caution, with his team lifting the deck lid to work on a fueling problem with his No. 11 Toyota.
Once his team finished working on the car, Hamlin returned to the track four laps down.
The two-time New Hampshire winner later collected damage in a multi-car accident on lap 180. Hamlin spun, making contact with David Ragan. Hamlin proceeded to the garage on lap 181.
Photo by Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images
Denny Hamlin and David Ragan tangle at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on lap 180 Sunday. Hamlin finished 38 laps down and sits 13th in points heading into Dover.
“We somehow couldn’t get fuel in the car, there was something going on,” Hamlin said to ESPN from the garage. “That pretty much set the tone for the rest of our day.”
“You just can’t have any mistakes in this three race deal,” Hamlin said. “From the driver, the crew, the team, no one can really make a mistake in three races, and fortunately no one did, we just had a mechanical failure.”
Hamlin expressed his emotions with ESPN of the situation.
“Frustrating to say the least,” he said. “We had a great car running top-two all day, and that’s just part of it.”
Hamlin eventually returned to the racetrack, finishing 38 laps down in 37th.
Because multiple Chase drivers experienced problems at New Hampshire, including teammates Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth, Hamlin’s deficit of six points makes him the first driver outside the Chase cutoff.
In 17 starts at Dover, Hamlin has finished inside the top-ten six times, including a fifth place effort in June.