Denny Hamlin victorious in New Hampshire once again

(Photo Credit: SaJordenMiller)
Written by Adrian Beecher


Loudon, New Hampshire – For the third time ever, Denny Hamlin captured the Checkered flag at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in a Cup Series car. It was not an easy win in any way as he had to battle off Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr. in the final laps.

After Kyle Larson in the #42 Target Chevrolet had failed inspection after qualifying, he was forced to start at the back of the field as Martin Truex Jr. started from the pole with Jimmie Johnson lined up next to him in the front row. As the green flag dropped, Johnson got a great jump. However, it was too good as he got to the start finish line before Truex Jr. which forced Johnson to serve a pass through penalty.

The other penalized driver Kyle Larson quickly moved up to 15th by lap 18. Then on lap 20, Truex Jr. passed Josh Bilicki in the #51 Prevagen Chevrolet to make him the first car a lap down. When the competition caution came out on lap 35, Truex was still out in front and had put 7 cars a lap down.

On lap 41, the first caution of the day came out with Erik Jones slamming into the wall in turn 3 as a result of a run in with Kasey Kahne in the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet. That would end Jones’ day. The second caution due to an incident would come out on lap 67 as Cole Whitt in the #33 Chevrolet had a mechanical failure that caused him to leak fluid on the track from turn 1 through turn 2. This would keep the field under caution until lap 73. Two laps later, Truex captured the stage 1 victory after leading all 75 laps in the stage.

Before stage 2 could go under the green flag, a red flag came out due to a hole in the racetrack on the backstretch. After a 5 minute and 29-second delay we got back to green flag racing with Kyle Busch in the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota on lap 83.

Then shortly after on lap 88, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the #17 Fastenal Ford got into the #3 of Austin Dillon. This caused Dillion to go sideways in turn 4. However, he was able to save the car limiting the damage to almost nil. They would get back to green flag racing on lap 91 with Busch still out in front.

It would be green flag racing the rest of the stage as Busch cruised to the stage win. It marked his 5th stage win of the season.

They would get back to green flag racing 157 with Denny Hamlin in the #11 FedEx Office Toyota out in front. What followed was a battle between wills of Denny Hamlin and Truex as they fought for position

On lap 173, Martin Truex Jr. was able to get back into the lead as he passed Hamlin.  Truex would maintain the lead until cutting down a tire on lap 217 forcing him to head into the pits. This would give the lead to Kyle Busch and put Truex a lap down.  However, on lap 229, Truex would pass Busch to get back on the lead lap. On lap 238 Busch pitted, and on his exit of pit road, he was too fast on pit road.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. would then take over the lead until he pitted on lap 246, which then allowed Martin Truex Jr. to get back in the lead. However, he would slowly lose his lead gap since he had to pit before everyone else. On lap 260 Truex would lose the lead to Matt Kenseth. Then on lap 262, the yellow flag came out as Ryan Newman in the #31 Grainger Chevrolet.

On lap 266 we get back to green flag racing Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet was out in front as he stayed out during the caution. That did not even last the first lap as Matt Kenseth in the #20 Dewalt Flexvolt Ford made the pass to overtake the lead. Then on two laps later it was Denny Hamlin getting back out in front.

With just 25 laps to go, and Hamlin in the lead, Kyle Larson and Truex Jr. did what they could to chase down the #11. In the final 10 laps, it was just Larson left in the battle with Hamlin as he did everything he could to pass the 11.

However, there was just not enough time left for Larson, and just enough time for Hamlin. As the checkered flag dropped, it was Denny Hamlin capturing his first win of the 2017 season. The win clinches his spot in the playoffs, while the second place finish for Kyle Larson is his second straight 2nd place finish after being forced to start from the back from penalties.

After the race, Larson addressed the penalties and his feelings on them, “For sure. It seems like we have a target on our back. But, that’s a good thing, too. It means everybody is paying attention to us. This is my fourth year in NASCAR and I’ve never been in a position to where NASCAR and other teams are paying so much attention to our race car. Thats a compliment to everybody at the shop.”

The next race in the series is in Indianapolis in the annual Brickyard 400, with a chance to kiss the bricks on the line.

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