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NASCAR Cup: Denny Hamlin overcomes penalties for Texas win

during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on March 31, 2019 in Fort Worth, Texas.

By AMANDA VINCENT

Denny Hamlin overcame two pit-road penalties, one for speeding on pit road during green-flag pit stops and another for an uncontrolled tire during the caution after the second 85-lap stage of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday for a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win.

“Just a fast car. Give me a car that could really pass anyone in the field,” Hamlin said. “That means a lot. It definitely was a different type of race here, trying to draft and everything and trying to get out of everyone’s way.”

His latest victory makes him the third multi-race winner in the first seven races of the 2019 season, joining two-race winners Brad Keselowski and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch. Hamlin’s Texas win also continues a Joe Gibbs Racing-Team Penske domination of Cup Series victory lane, as they’re the only two race teams to win, so far, this season.

Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez finished second and third, respectively. All four SHR drivers posted top-10 finishes, with Aric Almirola and Kevin Harvick in seventh and eighth, respectively.

“We definitely unclogged ourselves from qualifying,” Bowyer said, referencing his problems from Friday’s qualifying session. ”All in all, our car handled good. It wasn’t lightning fast all day long, but as they started slip-sliding around and struggling, we’d kind of prevail on those long runs.  That was our M.O. Denny, he was relatively fast all weekend long – top of the sheet – so we just weren’t, really. All in all, I’m really happy to finish where we were. What a wild race. Just about the time you think you’re gonna have some stage points, the caution would come out, and then, you thought you were back in and it happened again. Then, you’re like, ‘Well, damn.  What kind of haymakers are gonna be thrown at the end?’ And it just didn’t.  Anytime you finish second, it’s like, ‘What could I have done?’  When he came out of the pits that far ahead of us, I was like, ‘We’re in big trouble,’ but second is not bad for the way our weekend started.”

Hamlin’s JGR teammate Erik Jones finished fourth after spinning and bringing out the first caution on lap 14. Pole sitter Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top-five.

Busch finished 10th after leading a race-high 66 laps of the 334-lap race in an attempt to sweep the three-race Texas weekend after winning the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at TMS on Friday night and the NASCAR Xfinity Series race there Saturday afternoon. He was the leader after Ryan Blaney give up the top position to pit on lap 117. A few laps after pitting, Blaney was out of the race because of a blown engine.

Busch gave up the lead to pit with 97 laps remaining. After getting back to the front, Joe Gibbs Racing held the top-three positions in the running order. Busch, though, swept up the track and went from the lead to fourth with 59 laps to go. As a result, he headed for pit road with 53 laps remaining for right-side tires, beginning the final stage of green-flag stops.

Hamlin inherited the lead — a lead he gave up to make his final pit stop on lap 320. The final cycle of stops finally completed with just over 10 laps remaining with Hamlin back up front.

Pit strategies varied throughout the race, beginning with the caution for Jones’ early-race spin. Johnson led the first 59 laps before making his first pit stop under green. His Hendrick Motorsports teammate, William Byron, then led several laps after being among the drivers to pit during the first caution.

Byron and most of those who pitted during the early caution, though, had to pit before the end of the first 85-lap stage, cycling Joey Logano and Johnson back up to first and second. Logano won the first 85-lap stage after running second to Johnson during several of the early laps.

Busch pitted during the caution after the first stage and got out of the pits first after taking only two tires. He restarted sixth for the second stage, though, after behind drivers who stayed out between the two stages after pitting late in the opening stage.

Busch took the lead from teammate Martin Truex Jr. on lap 99 but lost that lead to Chase Elliott 10 laps later.

When the yellow flag waved again for Kyle Larson with just under 25 laps remaining in the second stage, Hamlin, Busch and others pitted. Hamlin recovered from his earlier speeding penalty by taking fuel only and getting out of pit road first. Busch was second of of pit road.

Hamlin stayed up front to win the second stage before his uncontrolled tire penalty.

Other top-10 finishers included Byron in sixth and Kurt Busch was ninth.

Below, is the complete finishing order of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway:

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Posted by on March 31, 2019. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR,Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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