Hamlin Claims Fifth Martinsville Victory in Exciting FashionMarch 30, 2015
Denny Hamlin passed teammate Matt Kenseth for the lead with just 28 laps to go and held off a last lap bump from runner-up Brad Keselowski to claim his first victory of the season, the win virtually locks Hamlin and the FedEx team into a spot in NASCAR’s Chase for the Championship.
While Hamlin’s day ended well, his journey early on was anything but easy. After starting 15th, Hamlin began picking off cars from the drop of the green flag, taking the lead on lap 148. The caution came out at lap 165 and during the ensuing pit stop, the FedEx team was assessed a pit road penalty for an uncontrolled tire, dropping him from the lead to 22nd. However, the FedEx car was fast and the handling was to Hamlin’s liking allowing him to fight his way back into the top-five over the next 125 laps.
The second half of the race would see Hamlin run up front, leading a total of four times for 91 laps, taking the lead for the final time with 28 laps to go. But Hamlin had his hands full over the final five laps that involved a lot of contact from a charging Brad Keselowski, including a hard hit to Hamlin’s bumper sending him sideways coming to the checkered flag, but Denny held on to the FedEx Toyota allowing the Virginia native to claim his 25th career victory in front of a home crowd.
“We had a very fast car, but obviously some pit road issues, but we overcame it,” said Hamlin following his fifth Martinsville win. “We just weren’t going to be denied today. Hat’s off to Brad, he had an option and he took the latter (not to wreck Hamlin). I thank him for that.”
Hamlin’s finish moves him up six spots to eighth in the NASCAR standings following Martinsville.
The Series returns to action at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 11.