Hamlin holds on to claim victory at Kansas

Amanda Vincent, NASCAR correspondent

Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, passed the No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, driven by Martin Truex Jr., with 31 laps remaining in the STP 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway on Sunday and held on to the top spot to claim his second win of the season.

"I'd love to see one of his (Michael Waltrip's) cars win," Hamlin said of passing one of the MWR cars late in the race. "They've put together a great program."

Truex finished second and Jimmie Johnson finished third in the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

Truex dominated the event after cycling to the lead during a round of green flag pit stops that began on lap 44. He then stayed up front through a caution and another round of green flag pit stops around lap 90.

The crew did a great job on that green-flag pit stop.

Denny Hamlin

Truex had built up a lead margin of more than five seconds by the time the second round of green flag pit stops got underway. Through pit stops, Truex and the No. 56 team gained another three seconds to give the driver a margin of more than eight seconds on the rest of the field.

That large lead was erased, though, by a caution that came out for debris on lap 132. Matt Kenseth in the No. 17 Roush Fenway Ford lined up next to Truex in the second position for the following restart but spun his tires, allowing Hamlin to move into second.

Hamlin lost the position to Johnson with 108 laps to go in the 267-lap race and then watched Truex and Johnson pull away from him and the rest of the field.

Hamlin regained the second spot when Johnson, along with a few other frontrunners opted to pit during a caution that came out with 80 laps to go. Truex, meanwhile, stayed out to retain the lead and Hamlin remained on the track to move into second.

The field cycled through green flag pit stops for the final time with about 45 laps remaining. Truex, once again, cycled back to the lead, but this time around, Hamlin wasn't far behind.

"It was a great day for our race team," Hamlin said. "The crew did a great job on that green-flag pit stop."

As the sun came out and heated up the race track late in the event, Truex reported to his team that his car was the loosest it had been all day.

"I don't even think it was the sun," Truex said, instead blaming the looseness on the last set of tires his team put on the car.

As Truex fought loose conditions in the late laps, Hamlin was able to take advantage by making the final pass for the lead with 31 laps to go. The No. 11 car then began to pull away from the somewhat ill-handling No. 56, but as the laps wound down, Truex was able to reel Hamlin in.

Martin Truex Jr., Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
Martin Truex Jr., Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Truex managed to pull up beside Hamlin a couple of times in the final 10 laps but was unable to complete the pass.

"I was better than he was at the end, but he was running where we were," Truex said of wanting to run the same line as Hamlin late in the race.

Kenseth finished fourth, and his Roush Fenway Racing teammate, Greg Biffle in the No. 16 Ford, rounded out the top-five.

"It was a good run for us, not great," Kenseth said. "I wish we could have got up there and mixed it up with the top-two a little bit more but, overall, it was a solid day."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Michael Waltrip , Jimmie Johnson , Martin Truex Jr. , Denny Hamlin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports , Roush Fenway Racing , Michael Waltrip Racing , Joe Gibbs Racing
Tags featured, gibbs, hamlin, toyota, truex, vincent