Denny Hamlin was just seven laps from victory. He was 17.5 miles from becoming the third driver to win both the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 in the same season. Then, his right-front tire gave out.
A dream run in the #Brickyard400 ends in a hard crash for @dennyhamlin.
He was able to climb from his car under his own power. pic.twitter.com/VhCyxsQsWB
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) July 6, 2020
In the closing laps of the NASCAR Cup Series’ annual trek to the “Racing Capital of the World,” Hamlin’s right-front tire blew out and he veered straight into the Turn 1 wall. His car rolled down across the track, before coming to a stop on the grass in Turn 2.
“I had a fast car obviously and was stretching it out there but wasn’t pushing right front at all,” he said. “It’s kind of roulette if you’re going to get one that will stay together or not and mine didn’t. You saw the end result.”
It’s the second time in four years that Hamlin’s wrecked out of the lead at Indianapolis.
“These big races — things don’t go my way all the time,” he said. “We’re still going to go next week and try to win the next one. We’ll do all we can.”
This came after his pit crew out-performed Kevin Harvick‘s on pit road and got him out ahead on the final cycle of green flag pit stops. It was the third straight race in which they battled for the win in the closing laps.
“There’s probably not another guy I would rather battle with each and every week,” he said. “Congrats to them and their team, they did a great job. Obviously, we had two very, very close and equal cars. They got it today.”
Hamlin’s tire blowout was one of many, Sunday, at Indianapolis, which included teammate Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney.
It was the climax of a day in which he led 19 laps and finished sixth and third in the stages.
“It’s just tough. I hate it for the FedEx team. We didn’t do what we needed to do and it didn’t work out for us today.
Hamlin leaves Indianapolis fifth in points, 109 behind Harvick.