Race Weekend Central

Denny Hamlin Tops Lightning-Shortened Happy Hour in Michigan Despite Crash

Happy hour turned into a happy half-hour as Denny Hamlin topped a weather-shortened final practice for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Hamlin’s 36.386-second lap stood as the quickest lap in the session, which saw less than 30 minutes of practice time before lightning in the area from a nearby forced NASCAR to pause the event and bring spotters in from the roof.

Despite his speed, Hamlin has cause for concern leaving the session after an early spin through the infield grass led to light damage for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver’s No. 11 FedEx Toyota. Hamlin’s spin brought out the only caution of the session before the lightning.

Chase Elliott led a Hendrick Motorsports trio inside of the top five with a 36.403-second lap good enough for second. Teammates Jimmie Johnson (36.420) and Kasey Kahne (36.464) followed in third and fourth, with Brad Keselowski (36.472) completing the top 5. Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, Carl Edwards and Alex Bowman rounded out the top 10.

The practice served as the final tuneup for Sunday’s final 400-mile race on the lower-low downforce package proposed for 2017. It was also the last look teams got at the racing surface, where rubber had been added using Kentucky Speedway’s tire monster machine over the previous two weeks.

Coverage for the Pure Michigan 400 will begin on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN and MRN Radio.

Results, via NASCAR

About the author

A graduate of Ball State, Aaron rejoins Frontstretch for his second season in 2016 following a successful year that included covering seven races and starting the popular "Two-Headed Monster" column in 2015. Now in his third year of covering motorsports, Aaron serves as an Assistant Editor for Frontstretch while also contributing to other popular sites including Speed51 and The Apex. He encourages you to come say hi when you see him at the track.

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