KANSAS CITY, Kan. – After a couple frustrating races in a row, Denny Hamlin got back on the horse Thursday night at Kansas Speedway with a victory in the Super Start Batteries 400.
Hamlin’s series-best fifth NASCAR Cup Series victory of the year followed finishes of 28th, 12th and 20th in the previous three weeks. Those results had Hamlin hungry for a return to form, which is exactly what happened on Thursday night.
“We’ve had a rough three weeks, but we were leading at Indy when we blew a tire,” Hamlin said in reference to his crash in the closing stages of the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway early this month. “I tell you, this team is really hitting on all four cylinders right now.”
Hamlin ran at or near the front of the field for most of the race, but things really began to take shape following the final round of pit stops. The final pit stop came shortly after a lap 235 caution period for an incident involving Corey LaJoie.
William Byron, who was the race leader at the time after taking no tires during the previous round of stops, took two tires to retain the race lead. His Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman followed suit with a two-tire stop, with Hamlin coming off pit road next with four tires.
The race resumed with 28 laps left and Byron and Bowman waged a battle for the race lead for more than a lap before Bowman was able to pull clear one lap after the restart. After another lap the caution flag waved for the final time when John Hunter Nemechek spun down the backstretch.
At that point Hamlin was running fifth behind Bowman, Byron, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski. When the race resumed Harvick pushed Bowman into the lead on the bottom, but he used the momentum out of turn two to jump to the outside of Bowman and drive past him into the race lead.
Behind the lead duo Hamlin had gone from fifth to third on the restart. He quickly dispatched Bowman and set his sights on Harvick. With 15 laps left Hamlin had begun to run down Harvick by running the top in the corners while Harvick stayed glued to the bottom.
Running the top proved to be the winning strategy as Hamlin quickly ran down Harvick, blowing by him down the backstretch with 13 laps left. Harvick quickly slipped to fourth as Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. each dispatched him, with Keselowski slowly closing on Hamlin over the final laps.
Keselowski tried to get close enough to challenge Hamlin for the lead, but Hamlin held serve and got to the finish line first to score his 42nd career victory.
“When we restarted fifth right there (during the last restart) with 20 something to go I really didn’t like our chances that much. I was just trying to execute every restart perfectly,” Hamlin said. “We were able to battle it out. This is a well executed race. We won today with probably not the best car.”
Keselowski said he feels like the Joe Gibbs Racing squad has found something in their cars recently, something he thinks may have played an important role in allowing Hamlin to return to victory lane Thursday evening.
“All in all a good night,” Keselowski said. “Good speed, not as good as the Gibbs cars. They were super, super strong. We’ve got a little bit of work to do. They’ve brought something new the last few weeks. They’ve really shown a lot of strength in the drivetrain. So we’ve got to do a little bit of work to keep up with that. Other than that we were right there.”
Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Truex finished third, with Harvick hanging on to finish fourth. Erik Jones completed the top-five to give Joe Gibbs Racing three cars in the top-five.
The race featured 11 caution periods, including two for big crashes down the backstretch shortly after restarts. The worst of those incidents saw Ryan Newman hook Christopher Bell into the outside wall, which sent Ryan Preece’s Chevrolet careening at speed into the inside wall.
The impact sent Preece’s car into the air and it nearly flipped before coming back down on all four wheels. Preece emerged from his heavily damaged race car frustrated, but unhurt.
For complete results, advance to the next page.
Results from the NASCAR Cup Series Super Start Batteries 400, held July 23, 2020 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan.
|1||10||11||Denny Hamlin||FedEx Freight Toyota||267||2||4||0||56||Running||4||57||5||False||9||7||56||9||7||True|
|2||7||2||Brad Keselowski||Wabash Ford||267||5||1||0||51||Running||4||30||1||False||6||10||51||6||10||True|
|3||5||19||Martin Truex Jr.||Auto Owner’s Insurance Toyota||267||3||8||0||45||Running||5||44||0||False||8||3||45||8||3||True|
|4||1||4||Kevin Harvick||Busch Light Apple Ford||267||7||6||0||42||Running||1||9||0||False||4||5||42||4||5||True|
|5||21||20||Erik Jones||Reser’s Fine Foods Toyota||267||10||7||0||37||Running||0||0||0||False||1||4||37||1||4||True|
|6||3||10||Aric Almirola||Smithfield Hometown Original Ford||267||8||3||0||42||Running||0||0||0||False||3||8||42||3||8||True|
|7||24||41||Cole Custer #||HaasTooling.com Ford||267||0||0||0||30||Running||0||0||0||False||0||0||30||0||0||True|
|8||6||88||Alex Bowman||ChevyGoods.com/Adam’s Polishes Chevrolet||267||9||0||0||31||Running||1||6||0||False||2||0||31||2||0||True|
|9||9||1||Kurt Busch||Monster Energy Chevrolet||267||0||0||0||28||Running||0||0||0||False||0||0||28||0||0||True|
|10||15||24||William Byron||Axalta Chevrolet||267||0||0||0||27||Running||3||27||0||False||0||0||27||0||0||True|
|11||8||18||Kyle Busch||M&M’s Fudge Brownie Toyota||267||1||5||0||42||Running||1||52||1||False||10||6||42||10||6||True|
|12||11||9||Chase Elliott||NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet||267||0||10||0||26||Running||0||0||0||False||0||1||26||0||1||True|
|13||23||8||Tyler Reddick #||I Am Second Chevrolet||267||6||0||0||29||Running||0||0||0||False||5||0||29||5||0||True|
|14||19||14||Clint Bowyer||One Cure Ford||267||0||0||0||23||Running||0||0||0||False||0||0||23||0||0||True|
|15||36||13||Ty Dillon||GEICO Chevrolet||267||0||0||0||22||Running||0||0||0||False||0||0||22||0||0||True|
|16||27||34||Michael McDowell||Dockside Logistics Ford||267||0||0||0||21||Running||0||0||0||False||0||0||21||0||0||True|
|17||14||42||Matt Kenseth||McDelivery Chevrolet||267||0||0||0||20||Running||0||0||0||False||0||0||20||0||0||True|
|18||37||96||* Daniel Suarez||Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota||267||0||0||0||19||Running||0||0||0||False||0||0||19||0||0||True|
|19||30||38||John Hunter Nemechek #||Digital Ally Ford||266||0||0||0||18||Running||0||0||0||False||0||0||18||0||0||True|
|20||4||12||Ryan Blaney||DEX Imaging Ford||266||4||2||0||33||Running||2||15||0||False||7||9||33||7||9||True|
|21||31||32||Corey LaJoie||Plan B Sales Ford||266||0||0||0||16||Running||0||0||0||False||0||0||16||0||0||True|
|23||22||95||Christopher Bell #||Rheem Toyota||264||0||0||0||14||Running||0||0||0||False||0||0||14||0||0||True|
|24||32||00||Quin Houff #||Creek Enterprises Inc. Chevrolet||260||0||0||0||13||Running||0||0||0||False||0||0||13||0||0||True|
|25||33||53||Josh Bilicki(i)||RBR Aviation Chevrolet||260||0||0||0||0||Running||0||0||0||False||0||0||12||0||0||False|
|26||26||77||Garrett Smithley(i)||Formula One Imports Chevrolet||260||0||0||0||0||Running||0||0||0||False||0||0||11||0||0||False|
|27||16||3||Austin Dillon||American Ethanol Chevrolet||251||0||0||0||10||Running||0||0||0||False||0||0||10||0||0||True|
|28||18||6||Ryan Newman||Wyndham Rewards Ford||251||0||0||0||9||Running||0||0||0||False||0||0||9||0||0||True|
|29||34||51||Joey Gase(i)||Page Construction Ford||251||0||0||0||0||Running||0||0||0||False||0||0||8||0||0||False|
|30||29||15||Brennan Poole #||Spartan Mosquito Chevrolet||219||0||0||0||7||Running||0||0||0||False||0||0||7||0||0||True|
|31||39||7||* Reed Sorenson||TBR Chevrolet||216||0||0||0||6||Electrical||0||0||0||False||0||0||6||0||0||True|
|32||20||48||Jimmie Johnson||Ally Chevrolet||200||0||9||0||7||DVP||0||0||0||False||0||2||7||0||2||True|
|33||13||17||Chris Buescher||Fifth Third Bank Ford||182||0||0||0||4||Accident||0||0||0||False||0||0||4||0||0||True|
|34||35||37||Ryan Preece||Bush’s Beans Chevrolet||181||0||0||0||3||Accident||0||0||0||False||0||0||3||0||0||True|
|35||2||22||Joey Logano||Shell Pennzoil Ford||176||0||0||0||2||Accident||1||27||0||False||0||0||2||0||0||True|
|36||12||21||Matt DiBenedetto||Menards/Dutch Boy Ford||175||0||0||0||1||Accident||0||0||0||False||0||0||1||0||0||True|
|37||17||43||Bubba Wallace||Victory Junction Chevrolet||170||0||0||0||1||Accident||0||0||0||False||0||0||1||0||0||True|
|38||38||66||* Timmy Hill(i)||RoofClaim.com Toyota||116||0||0||0||0||Electrical||0||0||0||False||0||0||1||0||0||False|
|39||40||78||* BJ McLeod(i)||Axele.com Chevrolet||66||0||0||0||0||Rear Gear||0||0||0||False||0||0||1||0||0||False|
|40||25||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Kroger Chevrolet||58||0||0||0||1||Electrical||0||0||0||False||0||0||1||0||0||True|