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Hamlin Holds Off Keselowski To Win Martinsville

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, March 29 2015

Denny Hamlin came up a winner at Martinsville. (RacinToday/HPP file photo by Garry Eller)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Denny Hamlin took the lead from Matt Kenseth with 30 laps to go, held off Brad Keselowski over the final 20 laps and went on to win Sunday’s 500-lap Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway.

The victory was the first of the year for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver. It was his first since the spring race at Talladega in 2014.

The victory was the Virginia native’s fifth at the Martinsville short track and was the 25th of his career.

“Just great race cars and part of a great organization that gives me cars that we’re able to do it,” Hamlin said. “I feel like I missed out on so many grandfather clocks here because of mechanical issues and such. We just weren’t going to be denied today and hat’s off to Brad (Keselowski). He had an option and he took the latter – thank him for that.”

Keselowski, who gave Hamlin a bump on the rear bumper coming out of the final turn, finished second while his Team Penske teammate, pole-sitter Joey Logano, was third.

“It was a good run,” Keselowski said. “Up and down day for us and we finished on a strong note, just not quite as strong as we wanted to. Man, it was a fun race. That’s the best we’ve ever been here at Martinsville, so I’m pumped about that, but a little disappointed I’m not taking home a clock. That’s how it goes sometimes, but, all in all, a really solid day, a fun day and just one spot short.”

Logano, who like Keselowski, have already notched wins and, presumably, Chase berths in 2015, said, “Our car just wasn’t as fast as those guys. We had a decent race car and we recovered from the spin halfway through the race and we worked our way back and slowly but surely got ourselves back in the top three. We didn’t have enough long run speed. I could hang with him a little bit, but it takes everything I’ve got to go their speed and then my stuff just wears out on that last run. I gave it all I had from lap one until the end of it and just burned it up and lost too much steam. Overall, it was still a great weekend with a couple poles and a truck win and an awesome third-place finish here, so overall it was a good weekend.”

Rounding out the top five were Kenseth and David Ragan, who is filling in for injured Kyle Busch in the No. 18 JGR Toyota.

Jeff Gordon had the lead with Kenseth just behind when the caution flag waved with 41 laps to go. The leaders all pitted and Kenseth came out with the lead.

Gordon, who came out fourth, was, however, penalized for speeding on the pit stop.

“Sorry guys,” he said to his crew over the radio, “that’s on me.”

Gordon managed to pass bunches of cars after the penalty and finished ninth.

Danica Patrick finished a happy seventh.

“It feels good,” she said. “I would say that we’ve had a couple of races this year that have, in general, been pretty decent. I think Atlanta could have been a pretty good finish if we wouldn’t have had some technical issues. But, it’s so much more fun here. It’s disaster to be off and struggling with the car and it’s really fun to have a good car. And we had both of them today. I don’t think I’ve really been in that situation before.

“This is the kind of stuff we need; a new group together, we need these ego boosts every now and again. So, it was fun racing and we have to do it more often.”

(This story will be updated shortly)

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – STP 500

Martinsville Speedway

Martinsville, Virginia

Sunday, March 29, 2015

1. (15) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 500, $166760.

2. (12) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 500, $157401.

3. (1) Joey Logano, Ford, 500, $162418.

4. (8) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 500, $142121.

5. (20) David Ragan, Toyota, 500, $144061.

6. (3) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 500, $118665.

7. (16) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 500, $99570.

8. (17) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 500, $144495.

9. (4) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 500, $133206.

10. (19) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 500, $118461.

11. (9) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 500, $101200.

12. (18) Aric Almirola, Ford, 500, $123811.

13. (30) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 500, $120733.

14. (26) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 500, $105750.

15. (24) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 500, $112683.

16. (7) Regan Smith(i), Chevrolet, 500, $113633.

17. (11) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 500, $82000.

18. (36) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 500, $125450.

19. (25) Greg Biffle, Ford, 500, $115508.

20. (6) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 500, $111839.

21. (34) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 500, $83800.

22. (37) Cole Whitt, Ford, 499, $99633.

23. (13) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 499, $91175.

24. (35) Chris Buescher(i), Ford, 499, $85075.

25. (29) David Gilliland, Ford, 499, $104808.

26. (42) JJ Yeley(i), Toyota, 497, $93933.

27. (2) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 496, $116000.

28. (33) Brett Moffitt #, Toyota, 496, $110339.

29. (32) Jeb Burton #, Toyota, 495, $81450.

30. (31) Josh Wise, Ford, 495, $82325.

31. (43) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 494, $87722.

32. (38) Sam Hornish Jr., Ford, 493, $104370.

33. (41) Alex Kennedy #, Chevrolet, 492, $77800.

34. (40) Mike Bliss(i), Ford, 491, $77675.

35. (5) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 468, $125856.

36. (14) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 453, $96970.

37. (39) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 444, $77472.

38. (27) Chase Elliott(i), Chevrolet, 427, $73047.

39. (28) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 389, $68975.

40. (23) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 364, $72975.

41. (22) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, Electrical, 330, $97911.

42. (21) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 328, $64975.

43. (10) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, Oil Leak, 177, $71475.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 68.843 mph.

Time of Race: 03 Hrs, 49 Mins, 13 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.186 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 16 for 112 laps.

Lead Changes: 31 among 13 drivers.

Lap Leaders: J. Logano 1-16; R. Newman 17-18; J. Logano 19-56; M. Bliss(i) 57; J. Logano 58-96; M. Truex Jr. 97-119; J. Logano 120-133; K. Harvick 134-147; D. Hamlin 148-164; B. Keselowski 165; K. Harvick 166-170; B. Keselowski 171-172; K. Harvick 173; K. Busch 174-194; K. Harvick 195-207; J. Logano 208; K. Kahne 209-237; K. Harvick 238-270; B. Keselowski 271; C. Edwards 272-284; K. Harvick 285-301; B. Keselowski 302-315; D. Hamlin 316-326; K. Harvick 327-357; M. Kenseth 358; K. Harvick 359-398; D. Hamlin 399-433; M. Kenseth 434-441; J. Gordon 442-462; T. Stewart 463-470; M. Kenseth 471-472; D. Hamlin 473-500.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): K. Harvick 8 times for 154 laps; J. Logano 5 times for 108 laps; D. Hamlin 4 times for 91 laps; K. Kahne 1 time for 29 laps; M. Truex Jr. 1 time for 23 laps; K. Busch 1 time for 21 laps; J. Gordon 1 time for 21 laps; B. Keselowski 4 times for 18 laps; C. Edwards 1 time for 13 laps; M. Kenseth 3 times for 11 laps; T. Stewart 1 time for 8 laps; R. Newman 1 time for 2 laps; M. Bliss(i) 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 16 in Points: K. Harvick – 263; J. Logano – 239; M. Truex Jr. – 231; B. Keselowski – 206; K. Kahne – 193; R. Newman – 180; P. Menard – 173; D. Hamlin – 172; D. Earnhardt Jr. – 172; A. Almirola – 170; J. Johnson – 168; M. Kenseth – 168; D. Ragan – 163; C. Mears – 161; J. Mcmurray – 154; D. Patrick – 148.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, March 29 2015
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