Hamlin Gets First Win of Season

Denny Hamlin

Hamlin claimed his 30th career win and first since taking the checkered flag in last year’s regular season finale at Richmond Raceway. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Race Results | Stage Points

Denny Hamlin scored his first win of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season in Sunday's Overton's 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
 
Hamlin drove a backup car to the win after crashing his primary mount in Friday's practice. He led 54 laps to claim his 30th career win and first since taking the checkered flag in last year’s regular season finale at Richmond Raceway.
 
He had to outrun a hard-charging Kyle Larson in the closing laps to give Joe Gibbs Racing its first win of the season.
 
“I was doing everything I could to pace,” Hamlin said after climbing out of the winning car. “I knew (Larson) had a very fast car. It just seemed like we were able to get off the corner pretty good. Really I just drove a pace there that I felt comfortable with, just in case we had to restart. I didn’t want to burn the tires up.”
 
Larson, who started from the back when what would have been a pole-winning qualifying run was disallowed for an illegal rear deck led, charged back to finish second for the seventh time this season.
 
Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five.
 
Daniel Suarez, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson completed the first 10 finishers.
 
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series now heads to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for next Sunday’s Brickyard 400.
 
How Hamlin Won: JGR teammate Matt Kenseth had the top spot but decided to take two tires rather than four as most of the leaders did on a late pit stop. That was enough to open the door for Hamlin to get by on lap 267 and stay in front the rest of the way for the win.
 
Who Had a Good Day: Larson’s seventh runner-up finish of 2017 is the fourth most all-time through 19 races for any driver...Truex Jr. led 137 laps and matched his best career New Hampshire finish in third…Kenseth ended a six race streak in 2017 without a top-five finish, and has finished in the top-10 in eight of the last nine races at New Hampshire.
 
Who Had a Bad Day: The decision to take two tires rather than four proved costly for Kenseth, who couldn’t hold off the field including teammate Hamlin when the race restarted…Kyle Busch was in contention until a pair of pit road speeding penalties, including one in the same segment of pit road on the final stop, took him out of the equation for the win…Erik Jones cut a tire after a pit road altercation early in the race gave his Toyota damage. He hit the wall and ended up in 39th…Joey Logano also had a tire rub and mechanical problems. NASCAR confiscated a rear end suspension part from the No. 22 car and Logano ended up finishing 37th.
 
What Else Happened: The main topic of conversation over the weekend was the application of the traction substance known as PJ1 or VHT in hopes of creating a wider groove and better options for side-by-side racing. It appeared the compound worked early in the race, but as the laps wore on it’s impact became negligible. The second half of Sunday’s race was more typical of New Hampshire racing with track position and pit strategy playing the biggest roles in determining the outcome.
 
Quotable: “I forgot where Victory Lane is,” Joe Gibbs after Hamlin scored the first win of the year for this team.
 
Notable: Hamlin is the eighth different driver to win in the last eight races of 2017 by eight different organizations…He is also the 12th driver to win a race this season…Suarez tied his career best with a sixth-place performance.

 

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