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Defending race winner Denny Hamlin wrecks on Lap 221 after ‘rookie move’

Denny Hamlin was running fifth when he goes slamming into the wall on Lap 221 due to a wheel hop.

Defending STP 500 winner Denny Hamlin unexpectedly slammed into the Turn 1 wall at Martinsville Speedway 221 laps into Sunday’s race, knocking the five-time winner at the track out of the race.

Hamlin, the winner of the Daytona 500, had been running in the top five. Hamlin said the incident snuck up on him and was the result of “wheel hopping.”

“It’s probably my first time ever doing it here, so it’s a little embarrassing,” Hamlin told Fox Sports 1. “Just making up a lot of my speed on entry and as the tires wear, rear (tires) get hotter, less grip. You can’t brake them the same amount. It was really out of the blue. Never had a hint of it up until that moment. Bit of a rookie move on my part. Been around here too much to do something like that.”

Hamlin has a career-high five wins in 21 starts at Martinsville. Hamlin is guaranteed his worst finish ever at the track.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver had entered the weekend fourth in points after earning three top-five finishes through the first five races of the season.

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