Hamlin, Larson Exit Kentucky Early

Kentucky

Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson exited the Quaker State 400 early after hitting the wall in separate incidents because of tire issues. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)

SPARTA, Ky. - Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson exited the Quaker State 400 early after hitting the wall in separate incidents because of tire issues.

Both drivers had right-front tires go down with Hamlin's going first on lap 27 just before the competition caution. Hamlin started the race in the fourth position and was running third at the time of impact.

“It looked like the tire just came apart," Hamlin said. "A product of a green race track and we were one lap from getting that competition caution. Just couldn’t last the 30 laps that it needed to.

"I had no warning at all. The lap before was one of our better laps, the car turned really good so it wasn't like I could feel it going away."

When Hamlin got out of the car he appeared to be in pain, but said it was just a "stinger."

"When you take a hit to the right like that it shoves your foot into the gas pedal," Hamlin said. "The side of my foot hit the pedal, but by the time I got in the ambulance it went away.

"I've gotten beat up over the past couple years but this one was pretty mild."

The 42nd-place finish for Hamlin marked his worst of the season and third consecutive of 26th or worse. Hamlin, who does have a win this season, now sits 17th in the standings.

Larson's tire issue came on lap 75 ending his day in 40th place.

"This is the first time that’s ever happened to me in stock car racing," Larson said. "I saw Denny blew his right front and I’d been pretty tight. But I didn’t think we had any tire issues all weekend, so I was kind of shocked when he blew his right front. And then we were pretty tight on our run. I felt like I was using up my right sides; and the run up in the grey a lot trying to get the top working. I told myself to get back down just in case there would be tire problems and I guess I just used up my tires too much.”

Last weekend, Larson fell two spots in the standings to 10th with his 28th-place finish at Sonoma and will now leave Kentucky in 12th.

"We were hoping for a good points day to pad our points were we are before we go to Daytona where it’s a real crapshoot," Larson said. "It’s disappointing to have two weekends that didn’t end up very well the last couple of races. Oh, well. That’s how it goes. We’ll try and go to Daytona and rebound and gain some more points.”

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