A sudden tire failure ruined a solid Sunday – except for restarts – at Michigan International Speedway for Denny Hamlin.
His No. 11 Toyota suffered a left-rear tire failure just past the finish line with 12 laps remaining in the Firekeepers Casino 400. Hamlin’s car spun through the infield crash, narrowly missing a heavy impact with the outside pit wall before colliding with the inside SAFER barrier.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver said the tire didn’t appear to have been rubbing on a fender before suddenly exploding.
“It’s tough to say,” he told FS1. “There was no smoke inside the car. Usually, if you’re going to have a cut tire, there’s going to be smoke at some point. Everything looked all clear, and for it to go that long before it cut, I don’t know if it’s directly that or we ran over something, but either way, a tough day for our team.”
Hamlin, who finished second at Michigan last August, was seeking his first win at the 2-mile track in five years.
“We had a top three car all day,” he said. “Restarts were awful. Couldn’t get through Turn 1 without losing six to eight spots on every restart. Just a tough day.
“Still proud of the effort and speed we had up front and even through the pack. We’ll go to work.”