NSCS: Denny Hamlin records first Toyota win at Kansas

April 22, 2012 No Comments

Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR

All afternoon long, Denny Hamlin was having a strong, but quiet day in the top-5 of Sunday’s STP 400 from Kansas speedway.

He didn’t lead the most laps, or even the second most laps, he just quietly stayed in the top-5 after qualifying fourth and followed the leaders all day long.

Then when it came time for the final pit-stop of the day, championship winning crew chief Darian Grubb decided to bring the No. 11 of Hamlin in a lap earlier than the leaders of Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson.

“Great day, the pit crew did amazing,” Hamlin told Fox reporters after the race. “Great team effort today.”

Hamlin had the advantage coming out of the pits for a few laps, but Truex Jr drove, like he had all afternoon long, past Hamlin to take the lead.

“I got the lead back, after that last pit stop,” Truex Jr. said after the race. “But I just couldn’t hold onto it.”

Truex Jr. held the lead until there were just 30 laps to go, that is when Hamlin was able to make a move and take over the lead of the race.

Even though Hamlin was holding onto the lead, Truex proved that he had a strong car and he was able to drive up close to Hamlin. With two laps to go in the race, Truex dive-bombed Hamlin in turns three and four, but the move wasn’t enough and Hamlin was able to hold onto the lead.

“I could tell that Truex’s car was stronger up on the high line so I had to try and force him to go low,” Hamlin said to the Speed channel after the race. “My plan was to keep the leaders in sight all day and make my move late.”

From then on the quiet day that Hamlin was having started to make more noise, as Truex faded in the last couple laps. Hamlin, meanwhile drove onto the victory in the STP 400.

It is the first time that Hamlin and a Toyota has won at Kansas Speedway. It is the second win of the season for Hamlin, who previously won at Phoenix.

Truex Jr. who now sits second in points, led the most laps Sunday afternoon.  Johnson led the second most laps, but wasn’t able to catch up to the top two drivers after the final pit stop.

Like last week, wind played a factor, and there were a lack of cautions in the race. Sunday’s race broke the previous Kansas record for fewest cautions. There were only three cautions Sunday, the previous record for fewest cautions at Kansas was five.

Another problem that plagued teams throughout the day was engine problems. Chevrolet’s, Dodges and Toyota’s were all effected by dropped cylinders. Truex’s teammates, Mark Martin and Clint Bowyer, both left the race with dropped cylinders.

Driving the No. 11 car to victory today, Hamlin, drove that car number to its 199th victory in NASCAR Sprint Cup history, making it the winning-est car number in the sport. All of Hamlin’s 19 career wins have come in the No. 11

Avoiding the engine troubles that hampered the other manufactures, two Roush- Fords were able to grab top-5 finishes. Matt Kenseth finished fourth and Greg Biffle finished fifth.

Biffle leads the points by 15 over new second place Truex Jr.

On Saturday, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will go to Richmond International Raceway.

STP 400 results:

  1. Denny Hamlin
  2. Martin Truex Jr.
  3. Jimmie Johnson
  4. Matt Kenseth
  5. Greg Biffle
  6. Kevin Harvick
  7. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  8. Kasey Kahne
  9. Carl Edwards
  10. Kyle Busch
  11. Brad Keselowski
  12. Juan Pablo Montoya
  13. Tony Stewart
  14. Jamie McMurray
  15. Joey Logano
  16. Marcos Ambrose
  17. Kurt Busch
  18. Paul Menard
  19. Sam Hornish Jr.
  20. Ryan Newman
  21. Jeff Gordon
  22. Jeff Burton
  23. Aric Almirola
  24. Regan Smith
  25. Travis Kvapil
  26. Casey Mears
  27. David Gilliland
  28. Reed Sorenson
  29. David Reutimann
  30. David Ragan
  31. J.J. Yeley
  32. A.J. Allmendinger
  33. Mark Martin
  34. Landon Cassill
  35. Bobby Labonte
  36. Clint Bowyer
  37. Dave Blaney
  38. David Stremme
  39. Josh Wise
  40. Michael McDowell
  41. Joe Nemechek
  42. Mike Bliss
  43. Scott Riggs


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