- In front of his hometown crowd, Denny Hamlin climbed into the No. 20 Hisense Toyota Camry for the Toyota Care 250 at Richmond International Raceway and claimed Toyota’s 100th NASCAR XFINITY Series victory.
- With a fast car from the start of the day in practice, Hamlin carried the momentum over and claimed his first NASCAR XFINITY Series pole of the season, and the fourth consecutive pole for the No. 20 team led by crew chief Mike Wheeler.
- Rolling off the grid for 250 laps under the lights at the Virginia short track, Hamlin immediately showed he had speed and a solid Toyota Camry.
- Dominating from the start, Hamlin pitted for the first time during the lap 49 caution period for four fresh tires and Sunoco racing fuel. Winning the race off of pit road, Hamlin led the field back to green on lap 55.
- Continuing to show he had the car to beat, Hamlin began to pull away from the field and had a four-second lead over the second-place car when the caution flag waved on lap 109. With concerns of a tire going down, the team took advantage of the caution and pitted for four tires and fuel. With a fast stop by the No. 20 Hisense crew, the race restarted on lap 121 with Hamlin at the front of the field.
- The third and final caution of the 250-lap event waved on lap 144 and Wheeler made the call for Hamlin to stay on track. Hamlin maintained the lead, and led the field back to green on lap 152.
- As the race continued under green-flag conditions, teams began pitting for the final time around lap 210.
- With almost a seven-second lead, Hamlin made his final stop of the race on lap 225 under green for four tires and fuel. After pit stops cycled through the field, Hamlin resumed the lead until the checkered flag waved on lap 250.
- In dominating fashion, Hamlin won the Toyota Care 250 after leading the lone practice session Friday morning, leading all three qualifying rounds Friday afternoon and leading 248 of 250 laps Friday night.
- Following the win at Richmond International Raceway, the No. 20 Toyota Camry team gained two positions in the NASCAR XFINITY Series owner point standings and now sit third, 44 points out of the lead.
Denny Hamlin’s Post-Race Thoughts:
How strong was the race car?
“It was a great day – right from the very start I knew I had some great speed. That’s the key to victory. It’s no tricks or anything like that – it’s just you have to have a fast car. Mike (Wheeler, crew chief) and these guys, they gave me something special tonight and we were able to dominate with it. You don’t get these cars that often – almost never. Me and him and a car with Mike Ford (former crew chief) like this in the Cup Series a few years ago and then we had a flat with 15 (laps) to go. Of course, that runs through your mind with how you can mess this up, but luckily everything worked out for us and obviously it was a dominating victory.”
Are you proud to have claimed Toyota’s 100th NXS victory?
“It’s really big. Wheels (Mike Wheeler, crew chief) was actually with us when we won 100 for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Cup program in Loudon (New Hampshire Motor Speedway) and it was a great day and really Toyota has – their unwavered support and what they’ve done, it’s just big when you have the Toyota weekend here at Richmond, you’re able to sweep these practices and win the race in dominating fashion. It’s such a big weekend for everyone at Toyota and I didn’t know that they had 99 wins and they told me before the race, ‘Hey, if things go well, it’s 100.’ I’m like, ‘Whoa, whoa. Don’t.’ I’m very superstitious when it comes to that kind of stuff. I didn’t know when it was 99 on the Cup side for JGR. I’m just happy I was able to do it for them because they’ve been a huge supporter of mine since 2008 when they came over to Joe Gibbs Racing and really they’ve taken both our Cup and our XFINITY program to the next level. It’s good to see Ed (Laukes, vice president of marketing, performance and guest experience, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A) and a lot of these executives here that don’t get to travel every weekend and it’s obviously big for that reason. By the way, it’s also Hisense’s first race – a new partner for Joe Gibbs Racing – and hopefully we’ll have them back. If you don’t mind, I’d like to run this race in the fall. We’ve got a pretty good setup I’d like to run again. I’m not sure if I’m slated to do that or not. The seat’s taken? Oh well. I’ll work on that.”