Hamlin Wins Kansas!
Denny Hamlin patiently raced inside the top five all day and then when the moment was right made the move to the front of the field to bring home the win in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 400 at Kansas Speedway. Meanwhile all three JGR teams would earn top 15 finishes, with Hamlin’s teammates Kyle Busch and Joey Logano coming home 10th and 15th respectively.
Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota in the fourth position and remained in the top five through the early portion of the race. Hamlin was able to lead a lap as the field cycled through the first round of green flag pit stops and he had climbed into second as the race hit the 100-lap mark. From there he would remain in the top three for the majority of the race and would restart second following the day’s final caution on lap 187. A tremendous final pit stop by the FedEx crew under green flag conditions would close the gap to the leader by more than a second. Hamlin would take advantage of it and make the pass of Martin Truex, Jr. for the lead with 31 laps remaining. The 56 Toyota would make a late charge to regain the lead, but Hamlin managed to hold him off and claim his second win of the season.
With the victory, the No. 11 has won more races in NASCAR history than any other car number as it passes the No. 43. Denny Hamlin has 19 of those 199 wins.
Busch started the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota in 25th and managed to work his way up into the top 15 through the first third of the race despite battling handling issues while driving in traffic. Busch would remain just outside the top ten for much of the race as tight conditions continued to plague his momentum. With long green flag runs the M&Ms crew didn’t have as many opportunities to work on the car as normal, but the No. 18 Camry would begin to turn better as Busch managed to move into the top ten late in the race. He would go on to finish 10th.
Logano qualified the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota third, but was forced to drop to the back of the field for the green flag after the team made an engine change at the start of Friday’s first practice. The setback did little to bother Logano however as he quickly drove up through the field and gained 15 positions within the first 10 laps. As the race hit lap 100 Logano was competing for a spot in the top 20. Unfortunately with long green flag runs he would fall a lap off the pace from the leaders. The Home Depot team kept improving however and when a caution finally came out on lap 187 Logano was in position for the lucky dog spot to get back on the lead lap. He would make the most of the opportunity over the final run, gaining several positions to finish 15th.
Martin Truex, Jr. finished second to Hamlin, while Jimmie Johnson was third, Matt Kenseth fourth, and Greg Biffle rounded out the top five. There were only three cautions for a total of 18 laps with 14 lead changes among nine different drivers.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Richmond for the STP 400 next Saturday night with live broadcast coverage by Fox starting at 7 PM ET (race begins at 7:30 PM ET). Sirius NASCAR radio channel 90 and MRN Radio will also provide live coverage. You can also keep track of all the action by following @joegibbsracing.