Denny Hamlin scored his first win of the season Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Here’s how it all went down in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Overton’s 301.
After being awarded the pole due to a post qualifying inspection failure from Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr. led the field to the green on the inside; Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, and Kasey Kahne rounded out the top five starters.
Larson started from the back of the field after that inspection failure got his time disallowed. No other cars were sent to the rear of the field.
Truex had a clear lead by the exit of turn 2, Kenseth followed and was looking for the lead by the end of the first lap. Johnson was penalized for jumping the start. He was forced in for a drive through and rejoined the field 39th.
By lap 5, Truex had a clear lead. Larson had moved up 17 places and was 21st. McMurry, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin were the top five behind Truex and Kenseth.
Busch took third on lap 12. Hamlin followed for fourth soon after.
Larson was 16th by lap 20. Brad Keselowski moved into fifth.
Hamlin began dropping back and was sixth by lap 21; Keselowski was fourth, McMurray fifth; Larson was 11th by lap 24. Truex was starting to lap the field.
Larson was 10th by lap 30.
Truex had a lead over just over 6 seconds and the competition caution loomed.
The competition caution came out on lap 35 as scheduled.
The leaders all pitted. Truex was out first followed by Kenseth, Kyle Busch, McMurray, and Hamlin. Larson came out sixth. Keselowski had an issue with the jack on pit road and rejoined the field 22nd.
Green came out to start lap 41; Truex bolted to the lead, McMurray grabbed second; Erik Jones hit the wall in turn 3 after losing a tire; caution two came out. The tire was probably damaged after contact with Kasey Kahne on pit road.
The restart came to start lap 47; Truex again took the lead as Kyle Busch shot around the outside and took second; Kenneth and McMurray were side by side behind; Larson loomed. McMurray had the spot by lap 19 but Kenseth stayed close. Larson took fourth on lap 51 and was soon looking for third; he had the spot on the same lap. Kenseth got around McMurray a lap later.
Kevin Harvick took fifth on lap 56.
Kenseth took third from Larson on lap 58.
Truex has stretched his lead out to just over a second by lap 66; 10 to go in stage 1.
Cole Whitt lost an engine on lap 72 and the third caution of the day came out.
Kyle Busch pitted from second; Harvick and Hamlin also followed, the rest of the leaders stayed out.
The green came out on lap 73; two laps left in Stage 1. Truex took the lead; Kenseth fell into second, McMurray and Larson was side by side, with Larson getting the spot by the end of the lap.
Top 10 Stage 1: Truex, Kenseth, Larson, McMurray, Busch, Kahne, Ryan Newman, Ryan Blaney, Hamlin and Chase Elliott.
The leaders pitted. Kyle Busch led after staying out having just pitted; Truex was out first followed by Kenseth, Larson, McMurray, and Elliott.
NASCAR found a hole between turns 3 and 4 that had been repaired Saturday but was coming out. The cars were brought down pit road and the red flag was displayed.
The top 10: Kyle Busch, Blaney, Hamlin, Johnson, Harvick, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Keselowski, Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The first of those out, Truex, lined up 24th.
After five minutes and 29 seconds repairs were complete and the yellow was displayed.
Green came out to start lap 84; Busch had the lead by the exit of turn 2, Blaney was second, Hamlin third; it was three wide behind. When it shook out, Harvick had fourth, Johnson fifth.
Austin Dillon spun exiting turn 4 on lap 89 and caution five came out. Dillon hit nothing and continued.
The green came out on lap 92; Busch took the lead, Harvick followed for second; Blaney and Kurt Busch were side by side behind. Kurt Busch had the spot by lap 95, Blaney settled into fifth.
Blaney slipped and fell back on lap 99; Johnson and Logano got by. Truex had recovered to 10th. Larson was 13th and reporting a possible tire rub.
Busch had a lead of two seconds by lap 105.
Hamlin had moved to third by lap 115; Truex was seventh, the lead was 2.2 seconds for Kyle Busch.
Truex had sixth by lap 121. Kyle Busch’s lead had grown to just over three seconds.
Larson took 9th on lap 130.
Kurt Busch was fourth in front of Johnson by lap 135. Truex was looking for fifth from Johnson; Hamlin was looking for second. Hamlin took second on lap 139.
Kyle Busch’s lead was just over five seconds by lap 142.
Top 10 Stage 2: Kyle Busch, Hamlin, Harvick, Kurt Busch, Johnson, Truex, Kenseth, Blaney, Larson and Bowyer. The leaders pitted; Hamlin was out first followed by Harvick, Kyle Busch, Johnson, and Kurt Busch. Replays showed a problem with the right side jack on the Kyle Busch pit stop.
Green came out to start lap 157. There were 29 cars on the lead lap.
It was a three wide battle for the lead with Hamlin taking the top spot by the end of the lead and Kyle Busch just behind side by side with Truex. Busch has second by lap 160. Harvick was fourth, Kurt Busch fifth.
Truex was looking for second on lap 163 and had the spot by lap 164. He was soon looking to retake the lead. The two were side by side on lap 168. Hamlin was able to defend and Truex backed off.
Truex regrouped and by lap 173 was looking for the lead again. Truex retook the lead on lap 175. Logano pitted with a tire rub. The crew tired repairs, but they failed and Logano went to the garage after a lap.
Kyle Busch was looking for second by lap 181. He had the spot to start lap 182. Truex had a lead of 1.5 seconds.
Larson took fifth on lap 192. He took fourth on lap 207 as Logano came out of the garage.
Truex pitted on lap 219 with a flat tire. His stop was just inside the pit window and start a round of green flag stops. The stop handed the lead to Kyle Busch.
Truex un-lapped himself by passing leader Kyle Busch, who had yet to pit, on lap 231.
Harvick and Elliott pitted from inside the top 10 on lap 237. Hamlin and Blaney followed a lap later along with leader Kyle Busch and Larson.
Kyle Busch was penalized for speeding entering pit road his fourth of the season.
Earnhardt held the lead until lap 247 when he pitted handing the lead back to Truex. Kenseth was second, Larson third, followed by Hamlin and Harvick. Kyle Busch was 12th. There were 20 cars on the lead lap.
Kyle Busch was 9th by lap 253.
With slightly older tires, the lead for Truex was far from secure. Kenseth in second with fresher tires was cutting into that lead as the fastest car on the track.
Kenseth caught and passed Truex for the lead on lap 260.
Caution six came out on lap 261 however when Newman spun entering turn 2.
The leaders all pitted. Kenseth took two tires and was out first, the rest took four; Truex was out second, followed by Hamlin, Larson and Harvick. Kyle Busch was again penalized for speeding.
Earnhardt stayed out and inherited the lead. Green came out on lap 266. Kenseth easily took the lead, Hamlin followed for second as Truex stumbled and fell back. Hamlin took the lead a lap later. Larson was third, Truex took fourth bringing Harvick in fifth.
Larson took second with 25 to go; Truex followed to take third. Hamlin’s lead was 2.2 seconds.
With 16 to go Larson was slowly chipping away at the lead, it was 2 seconds.
The lead was 1.2 seconds with 10 to go. It was under a second as Hamlin was in traffic with 7 laps to go.
It was nearing a second with five to go.
With three to go, Larson was there.
It was a half a second on the final lap. Hamlin held him off for the win.
Behind Larson, Truex was third, Kenseth fourth and Harvick fifth. Daniel Suarez was sixth, Bowyer seventh with Kurt Busch, Keselowski and Johnson rounding out the top 10.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series heads to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard 400 next Sunday with live coverage on NBC starting at 3:00 p.m. ET.
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