Denny Hamlin enjoys solid run, but JGR still seeks first win

Denny Hamlin (Getty Images)

SONOMA, Calif. –Denny Hamlin’s Toyota lacked the muscle of some of the stronger cars in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway, but the driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota parlayed spot-on pit strategy and a solid performance into a fourth-place finish at the 1.99-mile road course.

After finishing fourth in the race’s second stage, Hamlin stayed out on older tires and inherited the lead. All told, he was out front on two occasions for a total of 11 laps, fifth most among a race-record 10 leaders.

“It was good—definitely had a great car,” said Hamlin, who finished one position ahead of JGR teammate Kyle Busch. “We didn’t have quite enough at the end.

“We didn’t have real good short run speed. We didn’t’ really have great long run speed. We just had good middle speed, and that worked out for us. We had good pit strategy and really passed a lot of cars today, and that’s about what we had.”

Hamlin currently ninth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings, but he and teammates Busch, Matt Kenseth and Daniel Suarez are winless through 16 races this season.