Sunday Was Senior Day At Richmond Raceway

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, April 4 2022

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin made a late pass and went on to win at Richmond on Sunday. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

The first six races of the NASCAR Cup Series 2022 season have been kids’ stuff – all have been won by drivers 30 years old or younger. 

But in race No. 7, old dudes showed that age and experience can still team up to win races. Even in new gen cars.

Forty-one-year-old Denny Hamlin tracked down runny-nosed William Byron (age 24) over the final laps, caught and passed him with five laps to go and went on to win by .552 seconds at Richmond Raceway on Sunday.

Also blowing past Byron, who won a couple weeks back in Atlanta, was 46-year-old Kevin Harvick, who finished second.

Byron, who led twice for 122 laps, was third.

Then there was the brains behind Hamlin’s victory and well-used brains they were as they belong to 81-year-old team owner Joe Gibbs.

The season had not been going well for Joe Gibbs Racing up until Richmond. The team that had won 194 races over the years, had none in 2022 and just one top-five – that by two-time champion Kyle Busch.

Whether it was the new gen cars or youthful energy among competitors, JGR needed something and ASAP

Don’t look at me Gibbs said when asked post race if it was a pep talk on his part that got his team its first win of ’22.

“I give the credit to the crew chiefs,” the man they call The Coach, said. “They’re the coaches over here. They’re in it. For them it’s every day, 18 hours a day. They do a good job with it.

“Our meetings on Monday, we talk everything over. There’s discussions about how do we go forward, how do we make this up. I think generally as a group we just got real good people. We know we’re giving it everything.

“I think what this shows is how hard it is because we got great people working really hard. I always give credit to the people that found it, they go after it, they’re winning races. That’s what we want to do.”

Hamlin, whose Richmond win was No. 47 in his Cup career, was having none of his boss’s modesty.

Gibbs may be eight decades old, Hamlin said, but he still provides energy and inspiration.

“The motivation from the team comes by the example that Joe sets,” Hamlin said. “Joe is not in his younger years, but he works full-time at the race shop. I couldn’t imagine, double my life from now, working as hard as he does.

“He can crack the whip and go home and relax or whatever, but he doesn’t. He works hard himself. The people that work in the shop see him walking the shop floor for eight hours a day.

“It ain’t like he’s just an owner and makes the calls and y’all just go do the rest. He’s a hands-on owner. I’ve been part of this organization from the very beginning. It’s not hard to want to work hard for him because he puts his life and blood into this race team. This is what he does. His family races for a living.

“The guy’s work ethic is just unmatched. That’s what’s so great about this team. Makes you feel good when you can get a win for him.”

As Hamlin spoke in the post-race presser Sunday, crew chief Chris Gabehart nodded along.

“Hear, hear,” Gabehart said at the end of Hamlin’s rave.

Then it was The Coach’s turn and he had the final say.

“I appreciate that,” Gibbs, whose nickname comes from his Super Bowl-winning days with the NFL’s Washington franchise. “Pat disagrees with you. We tried staying home. That doesn’t work in our family.”


NASCAR Cup Series Race

Richmond Raceway

Richmond, Virginia

Sunday, April 3, 2022

1. (13)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 400.

2. (7)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 400.

3. (2)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 400.

4. (6)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 400.

5. (21)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 400.

6. (9)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, 400.

7. (1)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 400.

8. (28)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 400.

9. (3)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 400.

10. (25)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 400.

11. (4)  Chase Briscoe, Ford, 400.

12. (16)  Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 400.

13. (19)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 400.

14. (15)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 400.

15. (18)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 400.

16. (14)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 400.

17. (11)  Joey Logano, Ford, 399.

18. (17)  Harrison Burton #, Ford, 399.

19. (8)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 399.

20. (20)  Austin Cindric #, Ford, 399.

21. (10)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 398.

22. (12)  Cole Custer, Ford, 398.

23. (5)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 398.

24. (30)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 398.

25. (22)  Todd Gilliland #, Ford, 397.

26. (29)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 397.

27. (26)  AJ Allmendinger(i), Chevrolet, 396.

28. (32)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 396.

29. (36)  Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 396.

30. (24)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 395.

31. (31)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 392.

32. (23)  Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 390.

33. (35)  JJ Yeley(i), Ford, 390.

34. (34)  BJ McLeod, Ford, 386.

35. (27)  Kurt Busch, Toyota, 291.

36. (33)  Cody Ware, Ford, Accident, 241.

37. (37)  Greg Biffle, Chevrolet, Suspension, 96.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  97.447 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 4 Mins, 43 Secs. Margin of Victory:  .552 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  5 for 35 laps.

Lead Changes:  13 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   R. Blaney 1-128;C. Bell 129-154;M. Truex Jr. 155-175;J. Logano 176;C. Bell 177-211;M. Truex Jr. 212-233;C. Bell 234;M. Truex Jr. 235-258;C. Bell 259;W. Byron 260-310;M. Truex Jr. 311-323;K. Busch 324;W. Byron 325-395;D. Hamlin 396-400.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Ryan Blaney 1 time for 128 laps; William Byron 2 times for 122 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 4 times for 80 laps; Christopher Bell 4 times for 63 laps; Denny Hamlin 1 time for 5 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 1 lap; Kyle Busch 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 12,24,1,19,18,9,20,22,6,4

Stage #2 Top Ten: 19,20,1,22,12,9,4,18,5,6

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, April 4 2022
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