Joe Gibbs Racing’s 20-race drought ended on Sunday as Denny Hamlin scored his third-career win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Hamlin led 54 laps and held a 0.509-second advantage over Kyle Larson to win the Overton’s 301, his 30th career win in the Monster Energy Cup Series.
“I was doing everything I could to pace,” Hamlin said. “I knew he had a really fast car. The backup car put us behind the eight-ball, but it’s impressive to win a race like this.”
Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five finishers.
Hamlin was the first car off of pit road following stops between the segments. Harvick and Truex followed. Stage 2 winner Kyle Busch led the cars down pit road, but an issue with the jack knocked him back to fourth for the restart. Johnson, Kurt Busch, Kenseth, Bowyer, Blaney, McMurray, Larson, Elliott, Earnhardt Keselowski and Ryan Newman rounded out the top 15.
When the race restarted on Lap 157, Hamlin held the outside for the lead but Kyle Busch took it three-wide with Harvick and Truex to take command of second. Truex, Harvick and Kurt Busch rounded out the top five on Lap 160. Johnson, Bowyer, Blaney, Kenseth and Larson round out the top 10.
After Truex rode Busch’s tail for several laps, he moved over on Lap 163 and allowed the No. 78 Toyota to take second. Hamlin still had a half-second lead over Truex with 29 cars still on the lead lap. Truex moved to within a car-length of Hamlin after completing Lap 166. Coming around to the line, Truex moved to the inside and held the point momentarily. On Lap 169, Johnson gave Kurt Busch the bumper coming through Turn 4.
Joey Logano’s car started smoking and he pitted on Lap 171 as Truex battled Hamlin for the lead. Hamlin fought back, held on momentarily, but Truex finished off the No. 11 car on Lap 174
and extended his lead by 0.226-seconds on the next lap. Kyle Busch was third followed by Harvick, Johnson, Larson, Kurt Busch and Bowyer.
Logano retired to the garage on Lap 176. He was scored 37th.
On Lap 180, Busch passed Hamlin and Truex extended his lead by a second-and-a-half over his fellow Toyotas. Harvick, Johnson, Larson, Kenseth, Bowyer, Kurt Busch and Elliott rounded out the top 10. Over the next 10 circuits, Kurt Busch dropped out of the top 10, Elliott and Earnhardt moved into the top 10. Truex’s lead was two-seconds over Busch.
Kenseth passed Johnson for sixth on Lap 197. Bowyer followed suit on the next lap to take seventh as Johnson slid sideways out of Turn 4.
Truex’s lead was 2.4-seconds over Busch on Lap 200. Hamlin, Harvick, Larson, Kenseth, Bowyer, Johnson, Elliott, Earnhardt, Kurt Busch, Keselowski, Blaney, McMurray and Danica Patrick rounded out the top 15. Larson passed Harvick for fourth on Lap 205. Harvick dropped to fifth followed by Kenseth, Bowyer, Johnson, Elliott and Earnhardt.
Logano returned to the track on Lap 206 after the No. 22 team repaired the rear end of the car. He remained 37th, 33 laps off the pace. Kenseth and Bowyer passed Harvick (seventh) over the next 10 laps. Johnson, Elliott, and Earnhardt completed the top 10.
Truex pitted from the lead with a flat right front tire on Lap 218. Kyle Busch took over the lead followed by Hamlin, Larson, Kenseth, Bowyer, Harvick, Elliott, Johnson Earnhardt and Kurt Busch. Truex fell to 20th, one lap off the lead lap and leading for 122 laps.
On Lap 228, Truex worked his way into the lucky dog after passing David Ragan. One lap later, he passes race leader Kyle Busch to return to the lead lap in 16th. Busch pitted on Lap 237, but received a speeding penalty in Section 5. Earnhardt took over the lead on Lap 238. Keselowski, Austin Dillon, Truex and Newman rounded out the top five. Busch served his penalty on Lap 241 and cycled out to 21st — the last car on the lead lap.
Earnhardt pitted on Lap 246 along with Keselowski and Austin Dillon and turned the lead over to Truex. By Lap 250, Truex held a four-second lead over Kenseth followed by Larson, Hamlin, Harvick, Elliott, Johnson, McMurray, Patrick, Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch. Suarez, Stenhouse, Ty Dillon, Bowyer, Blaney, Allmendinger, Earnhardt, Bayne, and Keselowski remained on the lead lap.
On fresher tires, Kenseth moved to within two car lengths of Truex on Lap 260 and passed him on the inside coming to the line. After the first lap, Kenseth pulled out to 0.407 seconds but Newman spun out in Turn 1 to trigger the seventh caution of the race.
Kenseth led the lead lap drivers down pit road. The No. 20 car took two tires and lined up behind Earnhardt, who stayed on the track. Truex, Hamlin, Larson, Harvick, Johnson, Kurt Busch, McMurray and Elliott rounded out the top 10. Kyle Busch was penalized a second time for speeding —in Section 5 — and restarted 21st.
The race restarted on Lap 266. Kenseth blew by Earnhardt on the inside to regain the lead. Hamlin passed Kenseth on Lap 268 with Kenseth, Larson, Truex, Harvick Kurt Busch and Suarez in tow. Johnson battled Keselowski for eighth with Bowyer rounding out the top 10 as Earnhardt dropped to 15th on old tires.
Hamlin’s advantage was 1.9-seconds at the line as Larson applied the bumper to Kenseth and took over second. Truex followed Larson for third on Lap 277. Kenseth held onto fourth followed by Harvick, Kurt Busch, Suarez, Johnson, Keselowski and Bowyer, Kyle Busch worked his way up to 17th.
Larson cut Hamlin’s lead to 1.7-seconds with 15 laps to go. Truex, Kenseth, Harvick, Kurt Busch, Suarez, Johnson, Keselowski and Bowyer completed the top 10. Five circuits later, Hamlin’s advantage was under a second over Larson.
Suarez, Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Keselowski and Johnson rounded out the top 10.
The race was slowed by seven cautions. There were 11 lead changes among six drivers.
Truex’s 137 laps were the most led. He retained the points lead by 38 points over Larson.
|3||78||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||301||3.297||137|
|14||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||301||17.665|
|18||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||301||23.992||10|
|25||37||Chris Buescher||Chevrolet||300||1 lap|
|26||95||Michael McDowell||Chevrolet||300||1 lap|
|27||31||Ryan Newman||Chevrolet||300||1 lap|
|28||5||Kasey Kahne||Chevrolet||300||1 lap|
|29||38||David Ragan||Ford||300||1 lap|
|30||32||Matt DiBenedetto||Ford||299||2 laps|
|31||23||Corey Lajoie||Toyota||298||3 laps|
|32||83||Ryan Sieg||Toyota||298||3 laps|
|33||33||Jeffrey Earnhardt||Chevrolet||297||4 laps|
|34||15||Reed Sorenson||Chevrolet||296||5 laps|
|35||55||Gray Gaulding||Toyota||295||6 laps|
|36||51||Josh Bilicki||Chevrolet||290||11 laps|
|37||22||Joey Logano||Ford||269||32 laps|
|38||72||Cole Whitt||Chevrolet||66||235 laps|
|39||77||Erik Jones||Toyota||40||261 laps|