Denny Hamlin Claims First Victory of 2011 at Michigan International Speedway

June 19, 2011 No Comments

Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

In a race which was dominated by Roush Fenway Racing, it was Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin which found victory lane on Sunday. RFR drivers led a total of 115 of 200 laps at the two-mile oval track, but it was the dominance from the FedEx team on pit road which captured the victory for Hamlin.

Hamlin was the first off pit road during final pit stops on Lap 192, with Matt Kenseth filling the front row. Kenseth spun his tires, allowing Hamlin to maintain the lead for the final five laps.

“We finished — that’s the thing,” said Hamlin. “We got it done. Everyone knows that we’ve been strong. Today we didn’t look as strong as what we normally do here, but we got it working there at the end.”

Kenseth received help from his teammate Carl Edwards, but it was too little, too late. Hamlin beat Kenseth to the line by .281 seconds to earn his first victory of the 2011 season and the 17th career victory.

“I got a bad restart, and Carl pushed me back to clean air, which was real nice of him, and I got back to Denny, but I couldn’t get around him,” Kenseth said. “I just didn’t have enough time to get around him. I tried everything I could, and I just couldn’t figure out how to do it.”

Hamlin’s teammate Kyle Busch, who led 59 laps on Sunday, salvaged a third place finish for the second week in a row. The first and third finish for JGR comes just days after NASCAR confiscated illegal oil pans from the race teams (Friday).

Paul Menard scored a season best fourth place finish on Sunday, with Edwards finishing in fifth after leading 30 laps. Edwards was unhappy following his fifth place finish due to the inability to pass.

“Sadly, down force is such a big factor in these cars and I am really hoping that NASCAR will take the opportunity in 2013 to take down force away so the fans can see the guys race race cars and not race down force. That would be cool,” said Edwards.

“All the cars are very close. So let’s say all of the cars are a tenth apart and you are behind two or three cars, your car is two-tenths of a second slow. You can’t make up. I am not whining. Denny earned this win and those are the rules we are under. Track position was huge and I just wish it wasn’t like that.”

Stewart-Haas Racing driver’s Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart finished in sixth and seventh, respectively. Clint Bowyer, Mark Martin and Brian Vickers rounded out the top ten.

Complete results from Sunday’s Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at Michigan International Speedway:
1. Denny Hamlin
2. Matt Kenseth
3. Kyle Busch
4. Paul Menard
5. Carl Edwards
6. Ryan Newman
7. Tony Stewart
8. Clint Bowyer
9. Mark Martin
10. Brian Vickers
11. Kurt Busch
12. Landon Cassill
13. A.J. Allmendinger
14. Kevin Harvick
15. Greg Biffle
16. Trevor Bayne
17. Jeff Gordon
18. Joey Logano
19. Jamie McMurray
20. David Ragan
21. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
22. Bobby Labonte
23. Marcos Ambrose
24. Jeff Burton
25. Brad Keselowski
26. Martin Truex Jr.
27. Jimmie Johnson
28. Kasey Kahne
29. David Gilliland
30. Juan Pablo Montoya
31. Travis Kvapil
32. Mike Bliss
33. Regan Smith
34. Dave Blaney
35. David Reutimann
36. Andy Lally
37. Robby Gordon
38. Casey Mears
39. J.J. Yeley
40. Joe Nemechek
41. David Stremme
42. Scott Riggs
43. Michael McDowell

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