Denny Hamlin wins the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway as he predicted on his Twitter account last Sunday at Chicagoland after running out of fuel. Hamlin has 5 wins for this season and 22 career wins. This win is the 100th cup victory for Joe Gibbs Racing.
After taking the checkered flag, Hamlin parked his car beneath the flag stand, climbed out, raised his arm and pointed up to the grandstand and seemed to take a swing as if to recreate the shot in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, made by Babe Ruth, Hamlin had called his shot and it came true.
It took less than 100 laps for the cream of Hamlin’s #11 Fed-Ex Freight Toyota to rise to the top, barring green flag pit stops. Hamlin, who started deep in the field with a 32nd starting position on the 16th row in the field, took 94 laps to drive to the front of the pack.
Hamlin said he used his promise win more as a way to reassure his fans that New Hampshire would provide the comeback from the disappointing finish at Chicagoland. Hamlin continued by saying, “I knew once we got to about Lap 50 and started working our way to sixth, seventh position, I know that we had the winning car. It’s all those other things I talked about that you can’t control that can keep you out of victory lane. It’s the untimely cautions, things like that…it’s extra motivation in my mind to prove yourself right.”
Hamlin led for 193 out of the 300 laps on four separate occasions during the race. Before the last set of pit-stops Hamlin was told by crew-chief Darian Grubb to slow down and conserve his tires after his lead had grown at one point more than 7 seconds over second place Jimmie Johnson, when NASCAR called the 3rd debris caution of the race, and 4th overall, on Lap 272. The yellow stacked the field, but Hamlin showed his prowess as he was able to speed away after the restart on Lap 278 and easily held off Johnson. The margin of victory for Hamlin was 2.675 seconds.
When asked where he was getting beat, Johnson’s answer was, “It was hard to tell.” Johnson, who snatched the Chase lead by one point over Brad Keselowski, continued, “He had a lot of speed in his car and seemed to be able to go when he needed to and wanted to. It was just a great job on their behalf. We were the next best car, finished second and passed a lot of cars ourselves.” Johnson started in the 20th position on the 10th row, for the race on Sunday afternoon.
“We knew based on the July race that those guys were going to be tough, and they certainly were, I kept waiting for him to make a mistake. He did a good job.” Johnson said of Hamlin.
Pole-sitter Jeff Gordon finished 3rd to keep alive his feeble championship hopes. “I don’t think that thing bobbled all day.” Gordon said speaking of Hamlin #11 car.
Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Brad Keselowski and Tony Stewart ran 4th through 7th, respectively, as the Chase drivers swept the top seven spots.