Denny Hamlin claims first Dover Cup win with late pass of Truex
In one of his best seasons in the NASCAR Cup Series, Denny Hamlin added another first on Saturday – his first victory at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
Hamlin ran down and passed his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. with eight of 311 laps to go and held on for the win in Saturday’s first race of a doubleheader this weekend at Dover.
The victory is Hamlin’s sixth of the season – tying him with Kevin Harvick for the most this series – and 43rd of his career.
“I’ve been running down the leaders these last few weeks, but I haven’t been able to get there," Hamlin said. "We just didn’t control that restart there and we just had to battle back. We had to go back and get it. I was able to work the top line there a little bit to get the momentum. It looked like our car was just a little bit better at moving around to different lines.
"Proud of this whole team. This Camry was fast today. It was just unbelievable how good it was. The pit crew did an amazing job. Win No. 43, this is pretty awesome.”
Asked what it means to finally win at Dover, Hamlin said, "People always ask what your least favorite track is and I say Dover just because I’m not that good. I love the track - I just haven’t been very good here. We just have unbelievable cars right now. It seems like we’re coming to the race track prepared. I’m putting the work in and we’re getting results out of it.”
Because of an invert, Hamlin will have to start 20th in Sunday’s race at Dover while Matt DiBenedetto will start on the pole.
Kyle Busch finished third, Harvick fourth and Chase Elliott fifth.
Completing the top-10 finishers were Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, all lead-lap cars decided to pit with Truex the first off pit road.
Austin Dillon was penalized for speeding on pit road during his top and had to restart from the rear of the field.
On the restart on Lap 193, Truex was followed by Kyle Busch and Hamlin.
With 100 laps remaining in the race, Truex maintain a nearly 1-second lead over Kyle Busch with Hamlin having moved back into third.
On Lap 245, Hamlin got around Kyle Busch and moved into the second spot, about 1.9 seconds behind Truex.
With 60 laps to go in the race, Harvick and Elliott became the first two cars to begin a round of green-flag pit stops to take on tires and fuel to make it to the finish of the race.
Three cars still needed to make their final stop with 50 laps remaining. Truex, the first among those who, pit was fourth.
Truex finally cycled back into the lead on Lap 281 after Austin Dillon pit. Hamlin ran second, almost 2 seconds behind, Kyle Busch third and Harvick had moved back up to fourth.
With 15 laps remaining, Hamlin was trying to cut into Truex’s lead and challenge for the top spot. Kyle Busch remained third, 5.7 seconds behind the leader.
On Lap 303, Hamlin got to the inside of Truex and was able to reclaim the lead.
Hamlin held off Truex following a round of green-flag pit stops to claim the Stage 2 win, his seventh stage victory of the 2020 season – a series-best.
Bowyer was third, Kyle Busch fourth and Keselowski rounded out the top-five.
Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, all lead-lap cars elected to pit this time and Hamlin was the first off pit road. Kenseth was penalized for speeding on pit road and had to restart the race from the rear of the field.
On the restart on Lap 78, Hamlin led the way followed by Bowyer and Truex. Truex quickly moved into the second spot.
With 75 laps remaining in the second stage, Hamlin bad built up a 2.8-second lead over Truex with Bowyer in third.
On Lap 135, Harvick became the first team to make a green-flag pit stop to take on tires and fuel to make it to the end of race. Several other contenders began to follow Harvick down pit road.
With 35 laps to go in the second stage, three drivers still had to make their pit stop and Hamlin was running fourth, the first driver among those who had pit.
Once the cycle of stops was completed on Lap 162, Hamlin reclaimed the lead but with only a small advantage over Truex. William Byron ran third, but still needed to make a pit stop.
Almirola was forced to pit late in the stage a second time for a loose wheel and dropped back to 30th in the lineup.
With 10 laps to go in the stage, Hamlin had expanded his lead over Truex to more than one second as Bowyer ran third, nearly 7 seconds behind the leader.
Hamlin, the first car to take four tires in a mid-stage pit stop, cruised to the Stage 1 victory over Austin Dillon, who didn’t change tires.
Keselowski was third, Bowyer fourth and Truex completed the top-five.
Elliott, who started on the pole, took control early until an incident on Lap 7 between Jones and Kurt Busch on the backstretch brought out the first caution of the race. Alex Bowman also collected some damage in the incident.
Elliott continued to lead on the restart on Lap 12.
NASCAR displayed a competition caution on Lap 27 to allow teams to check for tire wear. Most lead-lap cars pit but a handful stayed out. Logano was the first off pit road thanks to a two-tire stop. Harvick had to make a second stop under caution to fix loose lug nuts.
On the restart on Lap 32, Austin Dillon led the way followed by Matt Kenseth.
With 25 laps remaining in the first stage, Austin Dillon continued to lead but Hamlin – who took four new tires on the previous caution – had moved into second and began challenging for the lead.
Hamlin finally ran down Austin Dillon and passed him on the outside on Lap 60 to move into the lead.
With five laps to go in the stage, Hamlin’s lead had expanded to more than two seconds over Austin Dillon with Keselowski third.
|2||19||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||311||2:30'04.207||1.179||1.179||88|
|10||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Chevrolet||311||2:30'22.474||19.446||0.630||1|
|13||8||Tyler Reddick||Chevrolet||310||2:30'07.651||1 Lap||1 Lap|
|14||12||Ryan Blaney||Ford||310||2:30'08.973||1 Lap||1.322|
|15||3||Austin Dillon||Chevrolet||310||2:30'21.310||1 Lap||12.337||49|
|16||17||Chris Buescher||Ford||310||2:30'27.377||1 Lap||6.067|
|17||10||Aric Almirola||Ford||309||2:30'05.739||2 Laps||1 Lap|
|18||13||Ty Dillon||Chevrolet||309||2:30'08.562||2 Laps||2.823|
|19||6||Ryan Newman||Ford||309||2:30'14.935||2 Laps||6.373|
|20||21||Matt DiBenedetto||Ford||309||2:30'15.749||2 Laps||0.814||17|
|21||88||Alex Bowman||Chevrolet||309||2:30'15.847||2 Laps||0.098|
|22||95||Christopher Bell||Toyota||309||2:30'17.347||2 Laps||1.500|
|23||42||Matt Kenseth||Chevrolet||309||2:30'18.848||2 Laps||1.501||1|
|24||38||John Hunter Nemechek||Ford||309||2:30'23.559||2 Laps||4.711|
|25||37||Ryan Preece||Chevrolet||309||2:30'26.689||2 Laps||3.130|
|26||34||Michael McDowell||Ford||308||2:30'10.696||3 Laps||1 Lap|
|27||43||Bubba Wallace||Chevrolet||308||2:30'14.674||3 Laps||3.978|
|28||24||William Byron||Chevrolet||308||2:30'21.028||3 Laps||6.354||1|
|29||32||Corey Lajoie||Ford||308||2:30'26.404||3 Laps||5.376|
|30||96||Daniel Suarez||Toyota||306||2:30'18.405||5 Laps||2 Laps|
|31||27||J.J. Yeley||Ford||302||2:30'11.535||9 Laps||4 Laps|
|32||53||Josh Bilicki||Chevrolet||299||2:30'03.715||12 Laps||3 Laps|
|33||00||Quin Houff||Chevrolet||298||2:30'21.462||13 Laps||1 Lap|
|34||66||Timmy Hill||Toyota||298||2:30'30.223||13 Laps||8.761|
|35||51||Joey Gase||Ford||293||2:30'25.374||18 Laps||5 Laps|
|36||15||Brennan Poole||Chevrolet||286||2:22'58.073||25 Laps||7 Laps|
|37||7||Garrett Smithley||Chevrolet||241||2:05'03.238||70 Laps||45 Laps|
|41||78||B.J. McLeod||Chevrolet||166||1:28'06.868||145 Laps||75 Laps|
|42||77||Reed Sorenson||Chevrolet||83||1:28'16.296||228 Laps||83 Laps|
|43||1||Kurt Busch||Chevrolet||6||2'28.451||305 Laps||77 Laps|
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Despite pandemic, NASCAR Cup Series is now back on schedule