Denny Hamlin took Joe Gibbs Racing to victory lane for the first time of the season on Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Hamlin, driving the No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota, held off hard charging Kyle Larson at the end to capture his 30th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory.
“It’s great. Definitely a team effort,” said Hamlin in victory lane. “This is a – I put us behind on Friday with the backup car getting in a wreck, but this – I really wish we would race that car that was in the hauler, but this one they did a great job getting it as close as they could working on the balance, getting it good yesterday and team effort. This is a total team effort all around.”
Hamlin and the No. 11 team found themselves in a hole early in the weekend. Hamlin spun his No. 11 Toyota on the frontstretch during practice and had no choice but to use the backup car. Despite going to the backup car, Hamlin posted the eighth fastest time in the final round of knockout qualifying on Friday.
“Yeah, just it’s a great feeling. I know we’ve been getting better and better as the year goes on, but definitely needed a win for the organization and for myself and just kind of get some momentum going with the playoffs are coming up, so we’ve got to get going,” Hamlin continued. “Really this is awesome. We led a lot of laps for Safe Kids – FedEx donates $111 for the laps that we lead this season, so awesome for them to do that for the FedEx Cares program.”
Runner-up finisher Kyle Larson had some work to do when the Overton’s 301 got underway. NASCAR disallowed Larson’s time in qualifying on Friday and started the event in the 40th position. By lap 30, Larson found himself racing inside the top 10.
“It’s a little frustrating what we have had to go through the last couple of weeks, but it’s pretty awesome to be able to run as fast as we have and finish second the last two weeks from dead last,” said Larson after the race. “I’m proud of our team, proud of everybody at our race shop. It’s been a lot of fun these last couple of weeks to be as fast as we have been, so keep working hard at it and maybe we can get some more wins.”
Larson will take home his seventh runner-up finish of the season. The California native holds two victories, nine top five and 12 top 10 finishes as the series heads to Indianapolis Motor Speedway next weekend. The driver talked about nearly catching Hamlin for the lead in the closing laps:
“Yeah, catching him. I thought I was catching him at a good pace, but once I would get closer to him, I would get in his dirty air a little bit and get tight. But, I felt like if I had maybe five, eight more laps I could have gotten to his back bumper and maybe did something. He is probably the best short track racer there is out here. Especially, when it comes to short, flat tracks, but for me to get beat by him is not a cool thing, but I’m proud of that because Denny Hamlin, like I said is really good at this stuff.”
Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top three finishers on Sunday at New Hampshire. Truex, who started the Overton’s 301 on the pole, dominated the field by leading 137 of the 301 circuits. In the waning laps of the race, Truex developed a soft right side tire and had to hit pit road a little early than the team had wanted. Despite the issue, the team pulled off a fast pit stop to quickly get him back out before the rest of the field hit pit road under green.
Kyle Busch showed some dominance in the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series veteran from Las Vegas led the field for 95 circuits until a pair of pit road penalties late. Busch was popped twice for too fast on pit road in section five. Despite the penalties, the veteran finished eighth.
Busch’s teammate Daniel Suarez posted a sixth-place finish on Sunday in the No. 19 Arris Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. The Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender tied his previous best finish of sixth at Dover International Speedway.
Through 19 starts in 2017, Suarez holds five top 10 finishes in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Martin Truex Jr. continues leading the series standings by 38 points over Kyle Larson. Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and today’s race winner Denny Hamlin round out the top five in points.
The series will move on to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard 400. The race will air live on NBC at 3:00 p.m. ET. The IMS Radio Network, in conjunction with the Performance Racing Network, will carry the live radio broadcast. You can also listen to the race on SiriusXM Channel 90.