Hamlin Scores First Career Road Course WinAugust 8, 2016
Denny Hamlin won his first career road course race before a sold out crowd in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen, executing the winning pass with just 10 laps to go and holding off a hard-charging Martin Truex Jr.
Hamlin lined up third behind leader Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch for a restart with 10 laps to go. As the leaders raced each other hard in to the first turn, they overdrove the corner and Hamlin dove to the inside and took the lead before another caution flew.
“When I saw them move forward and lunge into the corner, I knew there was no way for them to get out with any sensible speed,” said Hamlin. “It was my opportunity.”
Hamlin showed the way for the final restart and maintained a slim lead over Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski during the final four lap shootout to the checkers, picking up his 28th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory.
“This is a great win for me and my FedEx team, I can't tell you how disappointed I was when we didn't win at Sonoma,” Hamlin said. “It's very hard to win these road course races, I made one mistake at Sonoma and I didn't win”
Hamlin and his FedEx team stayed with their fuel strategy throughout the entire race and thanks to two red flags and eight cautions, totaling 20 laps, were able to complete the race after making just two pit stops.
“We executed perfectly. Didn't make any mistakes on pit road,” said Hamlin. “Hoping for those caution laps that we needed. That allowed us to make it on fuel.”
Hamlin's day wasn't painless though, as he awoke to back spasms and suffered with them throughout the race.
“I just woke up with back spasms this morning, just hits me every three of four months or so. I just wake up and can't move,” Hamlin said. “Really doubted being in the race car today to be honest with you, but can't say enough about this whole FedEx Freight Toyota team.”
The victory moved Hamlin up two spots to seventh in the NASCAR standings after 22 of 26 regular season races.
The series returns to action Saturday, August 20 at Bristol Motor Speedway.