Denny Hamlin Overcomes Issues to Run Third at Talladega

TALLADEGA, ALABAMA – OCTOBER 12: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, stands on the grid during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 12, 2019, in Talladega, Alabama. Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Denny Hamlin sustained damage in a ten-car wreck on lap 107 of Monday’s rain-delayed 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

The driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota also had a cowl flag break free from his car earlier in the race.

Despite the issues, Hamlin was charging at the finish, and he took the checkered flag in third place, just 0.059 seconds behind race winner Ryan Blaney. As a result, Hamlin heads to next Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway on top of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings, a comfortable 56 points ahead of Alex Bowman, the first driver below the cut line for the Round of 8 in the series Playoffs.

“(The race) changed with every caution,” said Hamlin, who hung back until the very end, wary of the multicar wrecks that caused enormous attrition on Monday. “It changed with every car that fell out. I mean, just a game of chess all day. Sure, we could have got up there and raced, got in the middle, but we would have been in all those wrecks. Didn’t make sense to me.

“I knew the statistics, the odds, the chances. I looked at how many cars were on the lead lap if we were to crash at that point in the race. It just wasn’t worth the risk. There wasn’t enough to gain with cars still crashing. We waited till the bulk of them got out, then went up there and tried to win. We almost did.”