NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin wins the IRWIN Tools Night Race a Bristol Motor Speedway. Casey Mears led the field to green, led the first 26 laps then promptly faded to the back. Denny Hamlin and the rest of the field worked on their cars to make them better. Joey Logano looked like he had the car to beat and led 139 laps, the most laps in the race. Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, and Greg Biffle were also strong leading 52, 42, and 41 laps. In the end it was all about pit strategy. Denny Hamlin had made his car better throughout the race, pitted at the right time and was in position to take the lead when the others realized they needed to save fuel and tires.
Bristol Motor Speedway ground down the outside groove in order to make the racing closer. Somehow the race was more like the old Bristol Motor Speedway even though the changes they made to the track didn’t really achieve the desired result. They were able to, and did use the outside groove the last half of the race.
Jeff Gordon said, “I think the combination of that rubber laid down up there which was a preferred groove and the left side tire that Goodyear brought here it seemed to each complement that more. This tire has less stagger and doesn’t allow you to roll around the bottom of the racetrack. The only way you could pass was to dive on in there and slide-job the guy.” Gordon further added “The restarts were intense because you’re out there in the bottom and the outside groove is the preferred lane and you’re sliding and pushing up hard and rubbing up on guys. Yeah I think there’s a little more intensity tonight than normal.”
Denny Hamlin indicated the old Bristol isn’t there but it raced like it. “Honestly. It’s just a different kind of racing. There’s nothing he’s going to do that’s going to make us run the bottom, that’s not the fastest way around the track. But it was the same thing; we were all running in the line, and just waiting on the next guy to screw up to get around.”
This is Denny Hamlin’s third victory and he is now tied for the top seed in the Chase for the Sprint Cup if it were to start today with Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, and Tony Stewart. Greg Biffle is still the point’s leader by 11 points over Jimmie Johnson. There were 13 caution flags, the most since March of 2007.
Jimmie Johnson was second, Jeff Gordon third, Brian Vickers part time driver of the 55 was fourth, and Marcos Ambrose was fifth for the second week in a row.
Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary. On Facebook at NASCAR News and Commentary