Denny Hamlin’s confidence in competing for the NASCAR Cup Series championship remains high despite giving up a chance to compete for the win at Kansas Speedway.
On lap 180 of the Hollywood Casino 400, Hamlin was forced to pit under the green flag after hitting the wall off Turn 4. The damage was severe enough to require right-side tires and his Joe Gibbs Racing team to give care to the right-rear fender. But in doing so, it knocked Hamlin off the lead lap and back into the 28th position.
He's forced to pit road for an unscheduled stop!
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) October 18, 2020
Fortunately, Hamlin and crew chief Chris Gabehart were correct thinking that the race would see more cautions before the checkered flag. After missing out on the free pass to teammate Erik Jones, Hamlin took the wave around under the lap 199 caution, and the final caution on lap 222 allowed him to further make headway through the field. He finished 15th.
“Obviously, we damaged the car, and at these tracks, you can’t have any damage on the car,” Hamlin said. “I was fortunate to get a couple cautions there to get us back on the lead lap. That was as far as I could go with the damage that I had; it just hurt the FedEx Camry so bad.
“To finish 15th with that damage, that was the best we could probably hope for. Still, definitely had a race-winning car today. Just threw it in the fence.”
Hamlin, who had a two-race winning streak going at Kansas, won the second stage Sunday afternoon and led 58 laps. It was the second-most laps led behind Kevin Harvick’s 85.
With two races left in the Round of 8, Hamlin is 20 points above the cutline.
“We can win every week,” he said of his outlook. “Every week, we’re up front. I think we can win next week. We can win the week after that, and we can win the week after that. Not too worried about having to go out there and win because I know we can do it.”