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Hamlin Tames The Glen For First Road Course Win

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, August 7 2016
Denny Hamlin became a road race winner on Sunday when he won at Watkins Glen. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Rusty Jarrett )

Denny Hamlin became a road race winner on Sunday when he won at Watkins Glen. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Rusty Jarrett )

RacinToday.com

Denny Hamlin endured severe back spasms, saved fuel on his final stint, took advantage of a series of mistakes by other front-runners on late-race restarts and went on to win Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race at the Watkins Glen International road course.

sprint-logo-08The victory was the second of the year for Hamlin, who won the Daytona 500 in February in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

It was the first-ever Cup win on a road course for Hamlin, who had never even led before on the twisties.

“We should have won both road courses,” Hamlin, who finished second at Sonoma earlier in the summer, said, “which we never would have predicted going into the year.

“This is a great accomplishment for us.”

Joey Logano and Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski, one of those making restart mistakes, were second and third.

AJ Allmendinger finished fourth and Tony Stewart fifth.

Carl Edwards started from the pole and led until pitting under green on Lap 25. On that stop, he was dealt a penalty for a tire outside of his pit stall.

When the pitting cycled through, Logano, who was an alternative pit strategy, took the lead. He pitted on Lap 34. During his stop, Logano joined a long list of drivers who were hit with pit road penalties as he got tagged for speeding.

Taking the lead was Danica Patrick, who was on yet another pit strategy, having stopped on Lap 14. She pitted on Lap 45 and Kyle Busch took over the lead.

On Lap 48, the caution flag waved. Kyle Busch and many others pitted. Taking the green flag for the Lap 52 restart with the lead was Kurt Busch. Busch was passed in Turn 1 by Logano.

Two laps later a big crash involving Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson, Austin Dillon and others brought out a red flag.

“We were just hustling hard on that restart and got loose over the curb and just kind of spun, Stenhouse said.

“The cars started checking up in front of me and they all moved out of the way and the No. 17 (Stenhouse) was sitting there, stopped,” Johnson said. “I remember seeing a door number and I was so thankful it was the passenger-side door and not the driver-side door because I plowed him. I really hit the car hard. I was afraid that I might have injured him. But, thankfully he’s okay and everybody is all right.”

When the race went to yellow, Logano and most of the field pitted. Keselowski did not and restarted with the lead on Lap 59. Also staying out was Hamlin, who moved to second place on the restart.

On Lap 64 of the 90-lap race, debris on the track brought out another caution, helping Keselowski and Hamlin save fuel.

On the restart, Kyle Busch, with more fuel than Keselowski, took second place from Hamlin in Turn 1. Busch, knowing Keselowski was trying to save fuel, put the pressure on.

With 14 laps to go, the caution flag waved again. The race restarted with 10 laps to go and with Keselowski first, Kyle Busch second, Hamlin third, Truex fourth, Logano fifth and Stewart sixth.

Both Keselowski and Busch went way wide into Turn 1. Blowing into the lead was Hamlin.

“The 2 (Keselowski) and the 18 (Kyle Busch) just overshot the corner on that one restart and gave us an opportunity,” Hamlin said. “Then it was just a about of hitting my marks and not giving those guys a chance like I gave Ton (Stewart) at Sonoma.”

But almost immediately, a car spun in the middle of the pack and out came the seventh caution of the day.

With seven laps to go, the race restarted with Hamlin P1, Keselowski second, Logano third, Truex fourth and Kyle Busch fifth. In Turn 1, Keselowski and Kyle Busch again went wide and Logano moved to second and Truex to third.

Before the laps was complete, another wreck – involving Kevin Harvick, David Ragan and Chris Buescher –  brought out the caution flag and then the red.

“I started getting checked-up and I think the No. 23 (Ragan) hit me from behind and we all just kind of piled in there,” Harvick said. “Everybody on our Busch team did a great job today. I was battling some brake issues and just trying to maintain the brakes, but they got me great track position and up in the front. And then, coming to the yellow that one time, I got into the Speedy Dry and the front tire locked-up and we had to pit. But, we had it where we needed to be. We just got back there and we got tore up.”

Hamlin held the lead on the restart, which came with four laps to go. Moving to second was Truex.

Before Truex could mount a challenge to Hamlin – who squeezed 41 laps out of his final fuel fill-up thanks to late cautions – the Furniture Row Racing driver was dumped from behind by Keselowski.

“I was trying to sort my way back to the front,” Keselowski said, “and just couldn’t quite get there at the end. I got right up to the bumper of the 78 and couldn’t do anything there and he made a move to get by the 11 on the inside and the 11 blocked him. I went high and the 78 went high and by then I was already deep in the corner and got into him and turned him. That was really unfortunate and the last thing I wanted to see. This track here, when you drive into the corner, you commit and sometimes you don’t know what will happen when you commit. The last thing I wanted to do was turn him.”

Also dumped on the final lap was Kyle Larson, who was running fourth when he was spun by Allmendinger near the final turn.

“I don’t want to race like that,” a contrite Allmendinger said. “We’re going for the win, it’s all good but not like that. I cost Kyle (who is trying to make the Chase on points) a good finish. I’m just pissed off with myself.”

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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Cheez-It 355 at The Glen

Watkins Glen International

Watkins Glen, New York

Sunday, August 07, 2016

  1. (6) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 90.
  2. (7) Joey Logano, Ford, 90.
  3. (12) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 90.
  4. (9) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 90.
  5. (3) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 90.
  6. (5) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 90.
  7. (14) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 90.
  8. (10) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 90.
  9. (32) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 90.
  10. (4) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 90.
  11. (17) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 90.
  12. (20) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 90.
  13. (16) Chase Elliott #, Chevrolet, 90.
  14. (21) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 90.
  15. (1) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 90.
  16. (8) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 90.
  17. (11) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 90.
  18. (28) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 90.
  19. (19) * Ryan Blaney #, Ford, 90.
  20. (23) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 90.
  21. (31) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 90.
  22. (33) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 90.
  23. (40) Landon Cassill, Ford, 90.
  24. (37) Boris Said, Ford, 90.
  25. (27) Brian Scott #, Ford, 90.
  26. (39) * Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 90.
  27. (34) Aric Almirola, Ford, 90.
  28. (22) * Cole Whitt, Toyota, 90.
  29. (2) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 89.
  30. (25) Chris Buescher #, Ford, 89.
  31. (18) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 89.
  32. (15) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, Accident, 83.
  33. (26) David Ragan, Toyota, Accident, 83.
  34. (35) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, Accident, 83.
  35. (29) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 77.
  36. (36) * Alex Kennedy, Chevrolet, Engine, 76.
  37. (38) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 74.
  38. (30) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, Accident, 52.
  39. (24) Greg Biffle, Ford, Accident, 52.
  40. (13) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, Accident, 52.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  89.513 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 27 Mins, 48 Secs. Margin of Victory:  2.065 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  8 for 20 laps.

Lead Changes:  9 among 8 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   C. Edwards 1-25; M. Truex Jr. 26; J. Logano 27-33; D. Patrick 34-44; Kyle Busch 45-48; B. Keselowski 49; Kurt Busch 50-52; J. Logano 53; B. Keselowski 54-80; D. Hamlin 81-90.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  B. Keselowski 2 times for 28 laps; C. Edwards 1 time for 25 laps; D. Patrick 1 time for 11 laps; D. Hamlin 1 time for 10 laps; J. Logano 2 times for 8 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 4 laps; Kurt Busch 1 time for 3 laps; M. Truex Jr. 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 16 in Points: B. Keselowski – 727; K. Harvick – 718; Kurt Busch – 689; Kyle Busch – 670; C. Edwards – 653; J. Logano – 652; D. Hamlin – 620; M. Truex Jr. – 612; M. Kenseth – 600; J. Johnson – 578; R. Newman – 562; C. Elliott # – 561; A. Dillon – 559; J. Mcmurray – 550; K. Larson – 520; T. Bayne – 512.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, August 7 2016
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