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Turbulence in Texas

It was a strange night under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway with long green flag runs dictating strategy. In the end, Denny Hamlin would lead the Joe Gibbs Racing team with a 15th-place finish, while teammates Kyle Busch and Joey Logano finished 16th and 24th respectively.

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Hamlin was running a special March of Dimes paint scheme on the No. 11 FedEx Toyota and started the night in the 23rd position. He was able to make his way forward and a two-tire stop on lap 115 allowed him to jump all the way into the top-five. However the experiment didn’t work all that well thanks to another long green flag run. Long green flag runs would mark this race however and as he battled to find the proper handle on his No. 11 Camry Hamlin would drop a lap off the pace, Despite his best efforts and those of his team, the long green flag runs would make it difficult to pick up the lucky dog or take a wave around and Hamlin was unable to get back on the lead lap. He was forced to settle for a 15th-place finish.

Busch started the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota in the 11th position and quickly raced his way into the top ten. Crew chief Dave Rogers and the Interstate Batteries crew continued to make adjustments to the No. 18 Camry to keep up with the changing track conditions as the day turned into night. The adjustments appeared to be working as Busch had raced his way into the third position and appeared set to compete for the win as the laps dwindled down. Unfortunately not long after a green flag pit stop on lap 251, Busch was forced to come back down pit road because of a left rear tire vibration. That unscheduled pit stop put the 18 team a lap off the leaders and back in the 17th position. Although the 18 team remained on the track for as long as they could hoping for a caution that would put them back on the lead lap – the caution would never come. Busch would have to settle for a frustrating 16th-place finish despite having a solid car throughout the race.

Joey Logano started the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in the eighth position and while he was set to battle inside the top ten on the track, it was his competition on pit road that ultimately would set him back. Logano was blocked in his pit stall on the first round of stops causing him to fall back to 21st for the race’s first restart. Then big trouble would come on the next round of pit stops when David Reutimann made a hard right turn out of his stall and directly into the left front end of the No. 20 Camry. The contact caused extensive damage and unfortunately there were very few cautions to allow The Home Depot team the time make the needed repairs. With long green flag runs between the cautions Logano would ultimately fall two laps behind the pace. Despite all the problems however, Logano and the Home Depot team continued to work through the adversity to salvage a 24th-place finish.

Matt Kenseth captured the victory, while Clint Bowyer was second, Carl Edwards third, Greg Biffle fourth and Paul Menard rounded out the top five. There were only five cautions for a total of 24 laps and 31 lead changes among 13 different drivers over the course of the 334-lap race.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to the circuits biggest track next Sunday, April 17 at the 2.66-mile oval of Talladega Superspeedway. The race will begin at 1 PM ET with live, high-definition coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at Noon ET. The race will also be broadcast live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 128.

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