Originally written on Race Review Online  |  Last updated 9/7/14

AVONDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 14: Denny Hamlin, sits aboard the #11 Fed Ex Ground Toyota during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 14, 2009 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Sparta, Ky- The biggest question surrounding Joe Gibbs Racing and Denny Hamlin the last month has been if he has enough time to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup come September. The answer is becoming more and more clear as the weeks go on. Denny Hamlin missed four races early in the year after suffering a compression fracture in his lower back after a last-lap crash in Fontana back in March. There were rumors then he would need season-ending surgery, but he bounced back to action at Talladega in early May. That sparked the question, can he win enough and get in the top 20 to make the Chase? Hamlin had two top fives and three top 10′s in his first five races back, but since has three straight finishes of 20th or worse. With a 23rd, 30th, two 34th’s, and a 35th place finish today it’s looking like he’s going to have to have a miracle to make NASCAR’s postseason. Hamlin sits 25th in the Sprint Cup standings 104 points behind Ricky Stenhouse Jr. who’s 20th in the standings. He’s got to at least make up over 100 points and win multiple times in the next nine races to even have a shot at making the Chase. That’s a tall task to overcome. Hamlin had a very rough day today in Kentucky. He brought out the second caution of the afternoon on Lap 36 when he blew a right front tire and got into the wall exiting Turn 4. He would rebound back to the top five and was in store for a solid finish but bad luck found him again as he blew yet another tire on the front stretch and hit the outside wall at the start/finish line. Hamlin was shaken up by the accident and taken to the infield care center for observation. Talking to the media afterwards, he said it was just a headache and his bell was rung and he also hit his knee of the steering wheel when his No. 11 FedEx Toyota made contact with the wall. He said he’d be fine to test at Indy on Monday and move on as he was already feeling better. Now he’s got a lot of work to do. Daytona is a huge wildcard next weekend.   Eric Smith is the Lead Motorsports Writer for Race Review Online. Follow him on Twitter @ericsportsguru The post NASCAR: Denny Hamlin’s Chase chances gone after rough day in Kentucky appeared first on Race Review Online.
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