DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – If Denny Hamlin hopes to defend his Daytona 500 victory from a year ago, he’ll have to come all the way through the 40-car field in order to do so.
Hamlin will start at the rear of the field for the 62nd annual Daytona 500 after his No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry failed pre-race technical inspection twice. He was originally scheduled to start 21st.
FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass reported the issue in question on Hamlin’s car was with rear toe.
The Chesterfield, Va., native is a two-time champion of the Daytona 500, having won the event in 2016 and again last year, in the first race following the passing of Joe Gibbs Racing president J.D. Gibbs.
In addition to losing his original starting spot, Hamlin’s car chief – Eric Phillips – was ejected for the event and the No. 11 team will also lose 15 minutes of practice next week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Brennan Poole’s No. 15 Premium Motorsports Chevrolet also failed inspection two times, though Poole was also dropping to the rear of the Daytona 500 field due to an engine change. However, the inspection failures tacked on a 15-minute practice hold and the loss of car chief Mark Fordham.
The No. 12 Team Penske Ford of Ryan Blaney (back-up car), the No. 13 Germain Racing Chevrolet of Ty Dillon (gear change), the No. 32 Go Fas Racing Ford of Corey LaJoie (back-up car) and the No. 52 Rick Ware Racing Ford of BJ McLeod (transmission change) will also all drop to the rear on the pace laps.
However, those four entries passed inspection on the first or second try Sunday morning, meaning they will keep their respective starting spots for the Daytona 500.
Dillon starts 24th, Blaney rolls off 27th, LaJoie grids up 36th and McLeod begins Sunday from 38th.
The 62nd annual Daytona 500 broadcast begins at 2:30 p.m. ET, live on FOX, the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.