It was a wild afternoon for Denny Hamlin at Pocono International Raceway. Hamlin started on the pole and led 49 laps before cutting a tire and taking a spin in the grass on lap 59. Hamlin fell to 40th but through pit strategy and a dash of luck...
It was a wild afternoon for Denny Hamlin at Pocono International Raceway. Hamlin started on the pole and led 49 laps before cutting a tire and taking a spin in the grass on lap 59.
Hamlin fell to 40th but through pit strategy and a dash of luck the rookie was able to battle back to the top spot. Victory was in sight with a handful of laps left, when a messy crash cluttered the race track with debris, red-flagging the event.
The rookie didn't let the time out make him nervous.
"I was thinking what I was going to eat for dinner, I didn't think about the race at all," said Hamlin of the 13 minute red flag.
With six laps to go, the race restarted with the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet leading. Thankfully, for Hamlin, there was little challenge from the rest of the field. He posts his first career NASCAR Nextel Cup series race victory in his 21st start.
"I thought we were going down the drain after that tire issue," Hamlin explained. "The whole crew just kept adding little pieces to the car to try and make it better. Each piece they added made it a little bit faster until we finally got back to where we were in the beginning."
It was a superior weekend for Hamlin who had never even seen Pocono Raceway until Friday morning. Later that day, he snagged the pole. Hamlin was on double duty this weekend flying Nashville from Pocono to participate in the Busch series race Saturday night, where he finished fourth.
Kurt Busch was second, "They turned a top five car into a second place finish. It was hard to compete with Denny."
The injured Tony Stewart managed to run every stitch of practice, qualifying and the race and scored third.
"I drove 500 miles and the damndest thing was I ended up right where I started," said Stewart. "We didn't go anywhere today.just glad we kept the track position we had and finished where we finished."
Brian Vickers and Matt Kenseth completed the top five.
"That was a pretty good run for us," Kenseth stated. "We just didn't have enough there at the end to catch any of those guys."
Notably, Defending race winner Carl Edwards was leading the event on lap 97 when he came in for a green flag pit stop and experienced troubles. There were problems with the jack and Edwards suffered a 64 second pit stop that placed him two laps down. He wound up finishing 25th.
There were seven cautions for 28 laps, with the most dramatic coming on lap 191 when Jeff Gordon took a hard lick into the wall. The driver side of the No. 24 Chevrolet was practically sheered but Gordon emerged unscathed. Gordon's crash walloped three segments of the safer barrier wall and the race was red-flagged to make repairs and clear the debris field.
Point leader Jimmie Johnson finished tenth. Matt Kenseth (-48), Mark Martin (-238), Tony Stewart (-257), Kasey Kahne (-279), Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (- 295), Jeff Burton (-387), Kevin Harvick (-430), Denny Hamlin (-463) and Kyle Busch (-476) complete the top ten. Gordon's 34th place finish drops him out of the top ten in points to 11th.