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Hamlin Dominates, Wins at Richmond

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Friday, April 29 2011

Denny Hamlin held off Paul Menard to win the Bubba Burger 250 at Richmond Friday night. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Erik J. Perel)

Denny Hamlin won the Bubba Burgers 250 Nationwide Series race at Richmond International Raceway on Friday night when his closest pursuers began running out of fuel with less than 10 laps to go.

Hamlin, who led 199 of 251 laps, had the victory sealed for him when, a lap after a restart with two laps to go, a caution came out just as he took the white flag.

Paul Menard, who gave chase to Hamlin after the final restart, finished second.

Justin Allgaier was third.

Elliott Sadler was fourth, Brad Keselowski was fifth and the final driver on the lead lap at the finish.

The victory was the second at RIR for Hamlin, a native of Chesterfield, Va., as he won the spring NNS

Denny Hamlin won at his home track on Friday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Sharon Ellman)

race there in 2008. Hamlin also has won three Sprint Cup races at RIR, including last fall’s.

But, the start to the 2011 season has been frustrating for Hamlin and his Joe Gibbs Racing teams. On the Cup side, he has yet to win a race, has just one top-10 finish and is 17th in points heading into Saturday night’s race at RIR.

Hamlin, who finished second in points in Cup last year, said he was grateful for Friday’s win and hopes it is the start of a turnaround.

“Any small victory goes a long way,” he said. “Maybe I won last night (in a charity event at RIR) because I had a record round of golf on Wednesday, I don’t know.  It’s just one big snowball that’s just rolling and rolling and hopefully it goes on and continues on.

“For me, this is a particularly special win because I started my career with the 20 car and basically built, I felt like, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Nationwide program to what it is now.  It’s good to see these guys back in victory lane.  We were able to get Kevin Kidd (No. 11 crew chief) his first win last year and obviously Adam (Stevens, crew chief) this year.  JGR is so deep within their personnel they are able to just put guys in positions and they’re able to succeed because of the people around them and what they’ve learned.  Adam is just another, I guess you could say chip off the old block as far as the crew chiefs at JGR continuing to be successful.”

Hamlin, who brushed the wall and was 11th in qualifying, took the lead from polesitter Carl Edwards on lap 45.

Things go worse for Edwards after that. He steadily fell backward and on lap 98, was lapped by Hamlin. Edwards would never get back onto the lead lap.

“We had the fastest race car on the race track,” Edwards said. “We were too tight the first run after a long run and then we fought back really hard and I was really proud of everybody. We got in the lucky dog position and then we ran out of gas. We messed that up, but that is racing. We didn’t give up and we didn’t quit. We had a race car that could have won if circumstances would have been a little different and that is the hard part.”

Hamlin, meanwhile held the lead until a restart on lap 131. At that point, he was passed by Aric Almirola. Six laps later, Hamlin recaptured the lead.

Things got interesting at the end of the race as teams began running low on fuel. Some ran out. Hamlin’s, however, kept running and Hamlin got his first victory of the year.

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Friday, April 29 2011
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