Late Caution Helps Hamlin Win at Atlanta

Photo- Getty Images

Denny Hamlin brought home his second straight win Sunday Night in Atlanta after holding off Jeff Gordon in the final laps. Until the final caution flew with six laps to go, it looked like Martin Truex Jr was going to take home the win. After the pit stops during that caution, Denny Hamlin had become the new leader after beating Truex Jr off pit road. This is Hamlin’s fourth victory of the season and his second straight. After a rough early summer, Hamlin found his way back to victory lane in Bristol last week and again in Atlanta Sunday Night. With only one race until the Chase begins, Hamlin is on a hot streak and he could be on that hot streak all the way to Homestead-Miami. Hamlin is proving he will be a fierce competitor for the title come Chase time.

Pole-sitter Tony Stewart led the first ten laps before being passed by wild card contender Jeff Gordon for the lead. Gordon couldn’t hold the lead long and another wild card contender Kyle Busch took the lead on lap 16. Hamlin took the lead for the first time on lap 35 when he passed his teammate Kyle Busch.

The first caution came out on lap 39 when Aric Almirola had smoke coming out the rear of his car and he left fluid on the track. When the leaders pitted under the caution, Kyle Busch beat Hamlin off pit road to take the lead once again. After Busch led a good amount of laps, Hamlin regained the lead on lap 81. The first round of green-flag pit stops began on lap 83 and Kyle Busch regained the lead after the stops. The swapping of the lead between Kyle Busch and Hamlin continued when Hamlin passed Busch on lap 89. The second caution came out on lap 130 for debris on the backstretch. On the restart, Kevin Harvick passed Hamlin and took the lead for the first time of the night.

On lap 218 more green-flag pit stops began. Juan Pablo Montoya brought out the caution with 84 laps to go when he got into the turn three wall. Hamlin got back to the lead on the restart. With 61 laps to go, wild card contender Carl Edwards saw his chances of making the Chase blow out the back of his car when his engine let go. This is Edwards first DNF (Did Not Finish) since October 2009. Edwards needs a miracle to make the Chase, if he wins next week at Richmond he could possibly get in. Edwards said after the incident that “(We’re) going to Richmond where anything can happen.”

On the restart the yellow flag came out quickly when five-time champion Jimmie Johnson was turned into the backstretch wall. Johnson was squeezing Sam Hornish Jr up into Ryan Newman and when Johnson tried to slide up in front of Hornish Jr, Johnson got turned into the wall. The incident also collected wild card contender Ryan Newman who had no place to go. This is Newman’s second straight week with a wreck after he got hit from behind and turned into the wall last week at Bristol. Newman’s hopes of making the Chase are sliming but Newman can win next week at Richmond and make the Chase. With 49 laps to go Martin Truex Jr took the lead from Denny Hamlin. Truex Jr is looking for his first Sprint Cup win since Dover in 2007.

If the race stayed green to the end, Truex Jr would be in victory lane but with six laps to go Jamie McMurray blew a tire and hit the frontstrecth wall to bring out a caution. This caution changed everything. Now the leaders are going to pit and we will have a green-white-checker finish. Hamlin beat Truex Jr off pit road to take the lead. Truex Jr spun his tires on the restart and he couldn’t keep up with Hamlin. Now Jeff Gordon had taken over the second place and he was right behind Hamlin. Gordon needs a win to get that second wild card spot. After taking the white flag Gordon was right on Hamlin’s bumper and going into turn three Gordon tried to go low but Hamlin was too strong on the outside and Hamlin crossed the finish line first for the second straight week.

Gordon said after the race that “I should of run into the back of him going into (turn) three.” Hamlin got to celebrate in the Atlanta Motor Speedway victory lane for the first time. Hamlin said after the race that his “Pit crew won me the race.” Hamlin also said that going into the Chase that ”Wins are all that matters.” Hamlin now has the most wins on the season and he is looking at the top seed in the Chase. The wild card standings are unchanged since no wild card contender won the race. Kasey Kahne still has the first wild card spot and Kyle Busch still has the second. After Atlanta, all the current drivers in the top ten will get into the Chase somehow. The top nine will be in the Chase and will get to use their wins as bonus points going into the Chase. Tony Stewart in tenth will be in the Chase one way or another. If Stewart runs well next week he will get in as the driver tenth in points and get to use those three wins as bonus points or if Stewart has a bad week and falls out of the tenth position in points, he will have the first wild card spot to get him in.

Drivers like Marcos Ambrose, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon can win and get into the Chase. If any of those drivers win next week at Richmond, they’re in.

A wild week is in store at Richmond next Saturday Night and with so many different scenarios of how this and that driver can get into the Chase, it’ll be a crazy night.

Results via Nascar.com

FIN

ST

CAR

DRIVER

MAKE

SPONSOR

PTS/BNS

LAPS

STATUS

1 7 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota Sport Clips 48/5 327 Running
2 5 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 43/1 327 Running
3 21 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 41/0 327 Running
4 28 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Shocks 41/1 327 Running
5 24 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Rheem 40/1 327 Running
6 3 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Wrigley’s Doublemint 39/1 327 Running
7 35 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / DietMountain Dew 37/0 327 Running
8 18 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Quaker State / Menards 36/0 327 Running
9 4 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Ford EcoBoost 35/0 327 Running
10 6 55 Mark Martin Toyota Aaron’s Dream Machine 34/0 327 Running
11 15 22 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 0 327 Running
12 26 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 32/0 327 Running
13 16 51 Kurt Busch Chevrolet HendrickCars.com 31/0 327 Running
14 27 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row / Farm American 30/0 327 Running
15 2 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M / Manheim Auctions 30/1 327 Running
16 32 21 Trevor Bayne Ford Good Sam Club / Camping World 0 327 Running
17 10 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford DEWALT 27/0 327 Running
18 9 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 26/0 327 Running
19 25 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Kingsford 25/0 327 Running
20 40 83 Landon Cassill Toyota Burger King 24/0 327 Running
21 33 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 23/0 327 Running
22 1 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Mobil 1 23/1 327 Running
23 11 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet HendrickCars.com 21/0 325 Running
24 20 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats 20/0 325 Running
25 22 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing 19/0 324 Running
26 41 93 Travis Kvapil Toyota Dr Pepper / Burger King 18/0 324 Running
27 30 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 5-hour Energy 17/0 324 Running
28 14 34 David Ragan Ford Glory Foods 16/0 323 Running
29 23 10 Danica Patrick Chevrolet GoDaddy.com 0 321 Running
30 42 32 T.J. Bell Ford Greensmoke 0 319 Running
31 29 38 David Gilliland Ford House / Autry 13/0 298 Running
32 13 43 Aric Almirola Ford AdvoCare 12/0 297 Running
33 19 13 Casey Mears Ford GEICO 11/0 291 Engine
34 8 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe’s / Kobalt Tools 10/0 269 Accident
35 17 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Army Medicine 9/0 268 Accident
36 12 99 Carl Edwards Ford Subway 8/0 264 Engine
37 36 195 Scott Speed Ford Jordan Truck Sales 7/0 196 Susp.
38 34 249 Jason Leffler Toyota Robinson-Blak-
eney Racing
0 77 Vibration
39 31 30 David Stremme Toyota Inception Motorsports 5/0 54 Susp.
40 39 23 Scott Riggs Chevrolet North Texas Pipe 4/0 43 Vibration
41 43 37 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet MaxQworkforce
.com
3/0 32 Brakes
42 38 191 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet Plinker Tactical 0 24 Overheating
43 37 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota AM / FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves 0 22 Rear Gear

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s