Denny Hamlin Scores Top-Five Finish at Darlington


Date: May 9, 2021

Event: Goodyear 400 (Round 12 of 36)

Series: NASCAR Cup Series

Location: Darlington Raceway (1.366-mile egg-shaped oval)

Format: 293 Laps, 400.2 Miles (Stages: 90 laps / 95 laps / 108 laps)

Start / Finish: 7th / 5th (Running, completed 292 of 293 laps) 

Point Standing: 1st


Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr.

Stage 1 Winner: Martin Truex Jr.

Stage 2 Winner: Martin Truex Jr.


Stage 1 Recap (Laps 190)

  • Denny Hamlin started seventh for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway and finished second in stage one.
  • The No. 11 Sport Clips Toyota Camry fired off strong, but by lap 20, Hamlin reported that he was battling loose conditions.
  • Crew Chief Chris Gabehart and the No. 11 crew worked on the Camry twice during stage one, making positive adjustments to keep Hamlin in the top five throughout the 90-lap stretch.
  • Despite the adjustments, Hamlin remained loose throughout most of the stage, yet ran some of the fastest laps on track.


Stage 2 Recap (Laps 91185)

  • Hamlin started second and finished fourth in stage two.
  • Shortly after the stage restart, the caution flag waved and Hamlin opted to stay on track and forego pit road, which put him at the start of the field when racing resumed. With old tires, Hamlin dropped to sixth place, but still had the third-fastest lap times on the track.
  • Hamlin brought the Sport Clips Camry to pit road twice during stage two, each time hoping for more adjustments to tighten up his handling. 
  • Still trying to find the perfect balance, Hamlin continued to deal with a loose race car, but managed to maintain his position within the top five despite an intense three-car battle with 30 laps to go in the stage.


Stage 3 Recap (Laps 186293)

  • Thanks to a great pit stop by the No. 11 crew, Hamlin started third in the final stage and finished fifth in the Goodyear 400.
  • Throughout the 108-lap stretch, Hamlin and his team continued to work on the Sport Clips Camry, coming to pit road twice.
  • With less than 100 laps to go, Hamlin reported to Gabehart that he was the worst he had been all day; however, he remained in the top five.
  • With 25 laps to go, Hamlin and a competitor were in a fierce battle for fifth when he brushed the wall. The Sport Clips Toyota Camry remained intact and ultimately crossed the finish line in fifth place. 


Additional Notes

  • Hamlin remains the leader in the NASCAR Cup Series points standings.


Denny Hamlin  Driver of the No. 11 Sport Clips Toyota Camry

What did you think of your race car overall today?

“I honestly thought we had the best car for the first 150 (laps) and then we got off-sequence there by staying out, which we thought everyone was going to stay out to save tires. I should have just came when everyone else was coming, but I didn’t make the call and Chris (Gabehart, crew chief) made it too late. Either way, we stayed in the top-five and then we got third on that restart and I just didn’t have the car that I had before. Lost some grip. I think the track burned in a little bit and we just lost the advantage that we had for the first 100 (laps).”


Next Up:

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Dover International Speedway for the Drydene 400. The race will be broadcast live Sunday, May 16 at 2:00 p.m. ET on FS1.