Denny Hamlin Crashes During Green White Checkered Battle in Texas

FORT WORTH, Texas – It was slated to be a two-lap shootout between two of NASCAR’s biggest stars. A series of late cautions gathered the entire field for a bird’s eye view of Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin.

Hamlin edged ahead of Elliott through the exit of Turn 2, but could not clear him by the end of the backstretch. Elliott dove into Turn 3 and cleared Hamlin in the middle of the corner. Elliott blocked Hamlin. Hamlin slid sideways, and his No. 11 Yahoo! Toyota Camry crashed into the outside barriers of Texas Motor Speedway.

“I got loose up in Turn 3, something I’ve been fighting really kind of all day and then when you got to push it the most on a green-white-checkered,” Hamlin explained, credited with a 30th place finish officially. “I knew that the likely scenario is that I wasn’t going to make it out of the corner with as much speed as I was carrying. I’m trying to go for the win, so I just got loose and spun out.”

After leading twice for 37 laps, Hamlin used some pit strategy to make the leap into the lead after Tyler Reddick’s mishaps on pit road and on track. However, with eight cautions in the final stage, five within the last 20 laps, that advantage evaporated into a level playing field.

Despite all the misfortune, Hamlin firmly believed his battle with Elliott was fair.

“I know that he washed up, but I didn’t think that it was out of bounds by any means, especially racing for the win there,” continued Hamlin. “So I think it was just a mix between a bad aero spot and a car that’s just never really ran good up in the high lane all day. I was loose every time I went up there. So the combination would just equal a crash.

“We were side by side, obviously, but I was on the inside, which is where I needed to be going into Turn 3 and he wasn’t that strong up in the high lane of (Turns) 3 and 4 either. So I thought I was in a really good spot there, even though he was beside me. I didn’t need that caution, but that’s what you have here at Texas is a lot of cautions and you just gotta navigate around it and do the best you can.”

It wasn’t just Hamlin that fell victim to the aero disruption. Many others had trouble on the receiving end of the aerodynamics of the 1.5-mile intermediate layout, including Ross Chastain who also crashed battling for the lead during the third and final overtime attempt. Some drivers were able to work in the second lane, but to say it was tricky is an understatement.

“The two corners are so different that it’s hard to get it right on both ends,” said Hamlin, three-time winner in Fort Worth. “You can go up there – the 45 (Tyler Reddick) got it going there at one point – but we just we just couldn’t get it going. We had to be on the bottom and we were in a good spot to win. We just had so many untimely cautions when we were out front and then that one where we lost control that certainly was not helpful.”

At the end of the first quarter of the season and first third of the regular season, Hamlin retains his third position in the championship standings, 28 points behind Kyle Larson and 11 marks behind Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr.

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