Five-time Martinsville winner Denny Hamlin lost control of his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Sunday, ruining his chance to win the STP 500 in back-to-back years. Hamlin lost control on lap 219 going into Turn 1, resulting in a hard hit into the wall.
Turns out even defending NASCAR race champions can make an occasional mistake on a short track. Caused by apparent wheel-hopping “for the first time” in his career at the half-mile facility, Hamlin drove to the garage area where the Daytona 500 champion would fail to be able to return to the track, finishing in the 39th spot – his worst career finish at Martinsville in 21 starts.
“It was really out of the blue and a rookie move on my part,” Hamlin said on television after the incident. “I’ve been around here too much to do something like that. I really thought we had a car to win.”
Starting eighth, Hamlin was consistently in the top 15 before the caution flew on lap 93. The following pit stop led to a penalty for being too fast on pit road. Despite the setback, the Virginia native had stormed back into the top 5 before the accident.
About the author
Growing up in Easton, Pa., Zach Catanzareti has grown his auto racing interest from fandom to professional. Joining Frontstretch in 2015, Zach enjoys nothing more than being at the track, having covered his first half-season of 18 races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2017. With experience behind the wheel, behind the camera and in the media center, he thrives on being an all-around reporter.
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