Denny Hamlin Back In Victory Lane At Martinsville Speedway With STP 500 Win

Denny Hamlin Back In Victory Lane At Martinsville Speedway With STP 500 Win

by March 30, 2015 0 comments

Photo Credit: Wayne Thomas

By: Hunter Thomas
Twitter: @HunterThomas08

RIDGEWAY, Va. – Denny Hamlin held on to earn his fifth victory at Martinsville Speedway in the STP 500 on Sunday afternoon.

Hamlin led 91 laps en route to his 25th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. With the win, he has now tied NASCAR Hall of Famer, Joey Weatherly for the most wins by a Virginian in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

“We had a very fast car, but obviously some pit road issues, but we overcame it,” Hamlin said. “We got luckily on the inside line on that last restart and that was the key for us to win. Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and the guys gave me a car I could win with and we got it done.”

Sunday’s win by the No. 11 FedEx Express team meant more than just a grandfather clock and a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. To Joe Gibbs Racing, the win encouraged the never give up attitude when faced with adversity. Earlier this week, Joe Gibbs Racing announced that J.D. Gibbs was trying to overcome complications that were impacting his brain function. Just before the start of the STP 500 on Sunday, Joe Gibbs addressed the media.

“J.D. at our team meeting earlier this week, he got up and basically he said, ‘I know God has a plan and God puts us through things for a reason.’” team owner, Joe Gibbs said. “I think J.D. gains his strength from the fact that he has a personal relationship with the Lord and I have to tell you that he’s my hero. I kind of watch him and I don’t know if anybody has ever dealt with anything as courageous as J.D. does.”

During the post-race press conference, Denny Hamlin described the impact of the intense pep talk that took place in the team’s competition meeting prior to the race weekend. Hamlin said that the speech Joe Gibbs gave during the team meeting was the extra 10 percent the organization needed to step up for this weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

“We had the longest competition meeting I’ve ever been a part of this past weekend,” Hamlin said. “Joe (Gibbs) raised his voice, which doesn’t happen very often, told us to get off our tails and go to work, and we all did it, and great result for this race team. Sometimes you need a leader like that to kind of put things in perspective. Not that people weren’t working hard, but it just takes that extra 10 percent out of everyone to get to that next level, and I’m very proud of the speed that we’ve shown with our 11 team so far this year.”

Finishing behind the Team Penske cars of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano was Joey Gibbs Racing’s Matt Kenseth in fourth. Kenseth started the race in eighth, and he led 11 laps throughout the afternoon. He has earned two top-five and three top-10 finishes out of the six races so far this season. With the fourth place finish on Sunday, Kenseth jumped up one spot to 12th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings.

“I thought we had a top-three car,” Kenseth said. “In the long run and at the end of the race I thought we actually had the best car – me and Denny (Hamlin). Then on that last restart, that recent set of tires just didn’t agree with it – didn’t have any grip and couldn’t go anywhere. Just kind of hanging on, which is unfortunate. The crew guys put us out in the lead and gave us a great opportunity again this week. I feel like I didn’t get it done, but did the best we could with what we had there.”

David Ragan earned his first top-five finish for the team when he crossed the finish line in fifth. Ragan who is subbing in for Kyle Busch is still trying to get used to working with a new team and manufacture. Before this weekend’s performance, his best finish in the No. 18 M&M’s Crispy Toyota was 18th in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“I feel like we’ve under-performed the last three or four weeks,” Ragan said. “A lot of it has been just mistakes on my behalf, mistakes on the team’s behalf and we’ve been really good. We’ve had some good speed and we’ve had top-10 cars, but we just haven’t been able to have a good, entire weekend. Finally, we put together a good race where we weren’t very good Friday and Saturday. We put together a good race today and that’s what’s the most important.”

As for Carl Edwards, he suffered a flat right rear tire to bring out the caution on lap 434. He was well inside the top-five for most of the day. He even led 13 laps, but finished a disappointing 17th. Edwards fell one spot to 18th in the point standings.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will take Easter off but will be back in action on Saturday, April 11 for the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Coverage for the race will air live on FOX and the Performance Racing Network (PRN) at 7:30 p.m. ET.

STP 500 Results:
1.) #11 Denny Hamlin
2.) #2 Brad Keselowski
3.) #22 Joey Logano
4.) #20 Matt Kenseth
5.) #18 David Ragan
6.) #78 Martin Truex Jr.
7.) #10 Danica Patrick
8.) #4 Kevin Harvick
9.) #24 Jeff Gordon
10.) #1 Jamie McMurray
11.) #5 Kasey Kahne
12.) #43 Aric Almirola
13.) #15 Clint Bowyer
14.) #41 Kurt Busch
15.) #13 Casey Mears
16.) #42 Regan Smith
17.) #19 Carl Edwards
18.) #6 Trevor Bayne
19.) #16 Greg Biffle
20.) #14 Tony Stewart
21.) #40 Landon Cassill
22.) #35 Cole Whitt
23.) #27 Paul Menard
24.) #34 Chris Buescher
25.) #38 David Gilliland
26.) #23 JJ Yeley
27.) #31 Ryan Newman
28.) #55 Brett Moffitt
29.) #26 Jeb Burton
30.) #98 Josh Wise
31.) #83 Matt DiBenedetto
32.) #9 Sam Hornish Jr.
33.) #33 Alex Kennedy
34.) #32 Mike Bliss
35.) #48 Jimmie Johnson
36.) #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
37.) #7 Alex Bowman
38.) #25 Chase Elliott
39.) #46 Michael Annett
40.) #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
41.) #3 Austin Dillon
42.) #51 Justin Allgaier
43.) #47 AJ Allmendinger

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Top-16 Point Standings:
1.) #4 Kevin Harvick
2.) #22 Joey Logano -24
3.) #78 Martin Truex Jr. -32
4.) #2 Brad Keselowski -57
5.) #5 Kasey Kahne -70
6.) #31 Ryan Newman -83
7.) #27 Paul Menard -90
8.) #11 Denny Hamlin -91
9.) #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. -91
10.) #43 Aric Almirola -93
11.) #48 Jimmie Johnson
12.) #20 Matt Kenseth
13.) #18 David Ragan
14.) #13 Casey Mears
15.) #1 Jamie McMurray
16.) #10 Danica Patrick

Hunter Thomas
Hunter Thomas is a journalist who grew up in Darlington, S.C. His first motorsports-based endeavor was working as the Public Relations Director at Dillon Motor Speedway in Dillon, S.C., and his journalism start came while he was freelancing at his hometown newspaper, the News & Press while in college.

Hunter has been working within the NASCAR industry since 2010, and throughout the years, he has done everything from PR/Marketing for drivers and teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, to working at Rockingham Speedway. As a journalist, Hunter has covered everything from regional short tracks to NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, World of Outlaws, Red Bull Global Rallycross, NHRA and much more.

Follow Hunter Thomas on Twitter by following, @HunterThomas08

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