Denny Hamlin Settles for Runner-Up Finish at Darlington

DARLINGTON, SC (Sept. 6, 2016)

Sport Clips Racing LogoPost-Race Highlights

  • Denny Hamlin made his second and final NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) start of the 2016 season on Saturday afternoon in the VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway behind the wheel of the No. 18 Sport Clips Toyota Camry “Throwback Edition”, inspired by the No. 11 car driven by NASCAR Hall-of-Famer Darrell Waltrip in the 1980’s. 
  • Due to inclement weather in the area caused by Hurricane Hermine, NASCAR officials cancelled all track activity on Friday, including NXS qualifying. The 40-car field was set according to the NASCAR rule book, placing Hamlin in the second position for the 147-lap race.
  • Shortly after the green-flag dropped, Hamlin told crew chief Chris Gayle that his Sport Clips Camry was extremely loose and lacking grip. Despite his condition, Hamlin maintained a spot in the top three until the first caution flag waved on lap 21. Gayle called for four tires and fuel on pit road, as well as an air pressure and wedge adjustment to loosen up their Camry. Hamlin rejoined the field in the third position.
  • Following the restart, Hamlin moved into the second position and settled in for a long green-flag run. When the second caution arose on lap 52, Hamlin reported little change in his Sport Clips Camry. The No. 18 team gave Hamlin four fresh tires, fuel and another round of adjustments to alleviate the loose-handling condition. After a lightning-fast pit stop, Hamlin charged to the front and dominated the field for 42 laps. Despite his track position, Hamlin continued to report an extremely loose race car and told Gayle that he needed more.
  • Gayle called for a green-flag pit stop on lap 102, giving Hamlin four tires and fuel, along with an aggressive round of adjustments. Right as Hamlin exited pit road, however, the third caution flag waved. Fortunately, the No. 18 Sport Clips Camry made it to the line just before the flag was displayed, scoring Hamlin as the leader once the remaining cars visited pit road.
  • The field restarted with 36 laps to go and Hamlin quickly dropped back to the second position. Now too tight, Hamlin struggled to find speed around the “Lady in Black” until lap 130 when spotter Chris Lambert said, “You’re right back to what you found before. Go get ‘em!” 
  • Despite a solid effort by Hamlin and the No. 18 Sport Clips team, they came up short as the checkered flag waved, ultimately settling for a second-place finish at the track where they were victorious just one year prior. Hamlin led a total of 47 laps throughout the 147-lap event and was the top-finishing Toyota driver of the race.

Hamlin on Today’s Race

  • “Well, this isn’t what we had hoped for today. It was exciting, but I wish I was on the other end of it for sure. We had a really bad second gear in our car and I got terrible restarts all day. I knew it would be tough once we lost the lead and then lost second to try to get back up there. This is a big weekend for everyone at Sport Clips. This is a big commitment that they put into this weekend, a big commitment they do for our military with the Help A Hero Scholarship program and I wish we would have gotten a win for them. We’ll give it another shot tomorrow."

Box Score Info

RACE:  NASCAR XFINITY Series – VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200

TRACK:  Darlington Raceway

DRIVER:  Denny Hamlin

CAR:  No. 18 Sport Clips Toyota Camry

START: 2nd


LAPS: 147/147

LAPS LED: Two Times for 47 Laps