Denny Hamlin Wins At Pocono In Overtime; Leads Joe Gibbs Racing 1-2-3 Finishby Hunter Thomas July 28, 2019 0 comments
LONG POND, Pa. – After coming up short in New Hampshire, Denny Hamlin capitalized on a NASCAR Overtime restart at Pocono Raceway on Sunday and held off Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Erik Jones to win the Gander RV 400.
Last weekend, Hamlin battled Kevin Harvick hard for the win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The two drivers traded paint, and Hamlin ended up being the bridesmaid. With momentum on his side, Hamlin entered Sunday’s race at Pocono Raceway coming off of two consecutive top-five finishes.
Hamlin was well on his way to Victory Lane on Sunday until a late-race caution came out with just six laps to go after Josh Bilicki stalled on the backstretch.
The field got the green flag with four laps remaining in the race. Hamlin jumped out in front of the pack, but a three-car crash involving Kurt Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Michael McDowell occurred on the backstretch, brining out the caution that sent the race into NASCAR Overtime.
On the final restart of the afternoon, Hamlin solidified the lead as Jones and Kyle Larson battled for second-place through Turns 1 and 2. Jones made up a lot of ground on the driver of the No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota through the Tunnel Turn, but he wasn’t able to challenge for the lead on the final lap. Hamlin held on to win his third race of the season and his fifth at Pocono Raceway.
“It was nerve wracking,” said Hamlin about the final restart. “I had Kyle (Larson) pushing me. Kyle is a great friend, so I put a lot of faith in him that he was going to push me there into Turn 1, but I knew he was in a backup car there wanting to win really, really bad. Luckily, I was just able to clear those guys and coming off of Turn 1, they were side by side and I was able to stretch it out.”
While Jones came up just short of the victory in the No. 20 Reser’s Main St. Bistro Toyota, he did capture his best finish of the season with a runner-up effort. Jones now has seven top-five finishes this season.
“It was hard racing there in the end,” Jones said. “The right restarts make for exciting finishes. Today was no exception. Wish we could have gotten up there and challenged Denny (Hamlin). Martin (Truex Jr.) gave us a great push on the final restart. The bottom just doesn’t have what the top does here on restarts, so we did all we could. The Reser’s Camry overcame a lot. We were pretty far off at the start of the race. We got it way better and had a chance to win had things worked out a little differently. We are close every week. So, it’s going to turn our way one of these times.”
Joe Gibbs Racing swept the top-three positions with Martin Truex Jr.’s third-place finish. William Byron finished fourth, followed by Larson.
Kevin Harvick who started on the pole and led a race high of 62 laps, finished sixth. Rounding out the top-10 was Daniel Hemric, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney who rebounded from a spin in the closing laps of Stage 2.
Throughout the afternoon, there were nine lead changes among five drivers, and there were seven cautions for 24 laps.
Joey Logano leads Kyle Busch by only six points in the standings.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will visit Watkins Glen International on Sunday, August 4 for the GoBowling at The Glen. Live coverage will broadcast on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 3 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images