Denny Hamlin started the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway deep in the field but raced hard to come back and win the Sylvania 300.
Denny Hamlin ran out of fuel last week at Chicagoland Speedway and gave up a great possible ninth place finish and settling for 16th. Denny started the week by Tweeting “This is 1 week of 10. We will win next week.” It seemed like he was more or less calling the race. He spent the rest of the week getting questioned and criticized for that. When asked about it Friday Denny said, “Just confident that we could win. It’s no different than the nine Chase tracks that we go to, other than Dover where I’m going to be realistic. I feel like I can go win each and every one of them. Really it’s nothing more than that. It was really meant to be nothing more than just, ‘Hey, we’ll get them next week. We’ll win it next week.’ People were just taking it a little further than that, but I’m racing — doing the best I can — and that’s all I’m going to do.”
On Friday during qualifying his team made a mistake and put race air pressures in his tires instead of qualifying tire pressures. Instead of having a car capable of winning the pole he only qualified 32nd. Jeff Gordon was the second fastest in practice and was able to capitalize on Denny’s misfortune and get the pole.
Jeff Gordon led the field to green, looking to dig himself out of the hole he got in by hitting the wall at Chicagoland last week. He was strong all day but like the rest of the cars in the field he had nothing for Denny Hamlin and the FedEx No. 11 Toyota Camry team.
There was a large rainstorm the night before in New Hampshire, because all the rubber was washed off the track, NASCAR called a competition caution on lap 40 for the teams to check their tires. Denny Hamlin was up to ninth place by that caution, and on lap 94 he passed Kyle Busch for the lead and never looked back. He led every lap after that except a few during green flag stops; a truly dominating performance. He led almost 2/3rds of the race. When asked if they had anything for Denny, Jeff Gordon simply said, “No” and Jimmie Johnson added “No. Kept waiting for him to make a mistake, did he a good job.”
Denny Hamline had this to say about his dominating performance, “Yeah, it was. Obviously we had a goal of trying to get to the Top-10 by Lap 100. Obviously we got the lead before Lap 100. Just took my time getting through traffic and no matter how fast your car is in practice, it’s no guarantee for the race.” His Twitter comment was still following him and he was asked if it put any more pressure on him. Denny said, “Yeah, it crosses your mind, for sure. But I knew once we got to about Lap 50 and started working our way to sixth, seventh position, I knew that we had the winning car.”
Denny’s crew chief Darian Grubb, was asked if Denny’s race went by design as Denny had indicated. “It pretty much was. It’s one of those things, sitting there looking at the fuel windows and everything else for the race and how it was going to play out.”
It will be talked about for ages; did Denny Hamlin call his win like Babe Ruth? Did he get out of the car as shown in the picture above, pointing like Babe did? Did he call winning the Championship? Denny said, “Yeah, definitely, there was many people that called their shot with championships ahead of me, so I’m just a small, small little bug on the windshield.” We will all be watching the next couple of weeks.
This win by Denny Hamlin is Joe Gibbs Racing’s 100th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win. This is Denny’s 22 win and breaks a tie with Bobby Labonte for second in race wins by a JGR driver. Tony Stewart had 33 wins during his time at JGR.
Jimmie Johnson was second, Jeff Gordon who needed a great run was third, Clint Bowyer was fourth, and Kasey Kahne was fifth.
Jimmie Johnson leads the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings; Brad Keselowski is second by one point, Denny Hamlin third -7, Tony Stewart fourth -10, Kasey Kahne fifth -15, Clint Bowyer sixth -15, Dale Earnhardt Jr. seventh -26, Kevin Harvick eighth -31, Greg Biffle ninth -33, Martin Truex Jr. tenth -34, Matt Kenseth eleventh -35, and Jeff Gordon twelfth -45.
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