Hamlin wins in Texas with 'a car that could pass anyone'

Image by Miller/LAT

Hamlin wins in Texas with 'a car that could pass anyone'

NASCAR

Hamlin wins in Texas with 'a car that could pass anyone'

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Denny Hamlin experienced a near laundry list of troubles during the 334-lap Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway, or as he said, multiple ways to give the race away.

But he didn’t.

Hamlin won for the second time in 2019 after repeatedly climbing back from misfortune into contention in the 23rd Annual O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, then went fuel only on his final stop while others took on tires which clinched the victory.

It was the 33rd NASCAR Cup Series win of Hamlin’s career and his third overall at Texas, where he had last won in the fall of 2010.

What happened to the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driver on Sunday afternoon?

Speeding on Lap 63.

An uncontrolled tire penalty on Lap 173 after winning Stage 2.

He even missed pit road at one point under green flag conditions, costing him a few more seconds.

Hamlin: “It was a car that could really pass anyone in the field.” Image by Jarrett/LAT

“Just a fast car,” Hamlin said in his front stretch interview. “He [crew chief Chris Gabehart] gave me a fast car, a car that could really pass anyone in the field, so that meant a lot. Definitely was a different type of race here, trying to draft, trying to get out of everyone’s wake.

“Proud of this whole FedEx Office team here — Toyota, Coca‑Cola, the Jordan Brand, Little Big Burger, everyone who helps put this race car on the race track. Joe Gibbs, J.D. Gibbs — still thinking about him and his legacy. Got to say hi to Jordan [Fish, girlfriend] and the kids at home. Hopefully, we all have some fun tonight.”

Winner Hamlin’s JGR teammate Jones rebounded from an early spin to  late-race lead. Image by Thacker/LAT

Hamlin’s JGR teammate Erik Jones rebounded from a solo spin early in the take to take the lead with 59 laps to go when Texas Trucks and Xfinity winner Kyle Busch, looking for a weekend sweep, got loose in Turn 2 and slid up the track.

Jones held the top spot until he made his final pit stop with 32 laps to go where his No. 20 team put on two tires. That handed the lead to Hamlin until he pitted for fuel only with 15 laps to go, then cycled back to the race lead with 11 laps remaining.

Bowyer’s Stewart-Haas Racing Mustang finished second. Image by Jarrett/LAT

Hamlin pulled out a 2.7s gap on Clint Bowyer at the checkered flag. Bowyer’s Stewart-Haas Racing Ford teammate Daniel Suarez finished third and Jones fourth.

Jimmie Johnson was fifth at the checkered flag — his first top-five finish since May of last year — after starting from the pole and leading 60 laps.

Polewinner Johnson wound up fifth — his first top five in almost a year. Image by Miller/LAT

Rounding out the top 10 were William Byron, Aric Almirola, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, and Kyle Busch. Byron led 15 laps in Stage 1 while Kyle Busch led a race-high 66 laps.

Joey Logano finished 17th after winning Stage 1. The No. 22 team fell behind after having to repair the hood of the Team Penske Ford Mustang in the second stage when it came loose.

Logano’s teammates, Brad Keselowski, and Ryan Blaney, had similar luck. Keselowski finished 36th after spending time in the garage for mechanical repairs while Blaney finished 37th after falling out of the race early, also with a mechanical issue.

There were 27 lead changes among 13 leaders in the Texas Speedway Cup race, with five caution flags.

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