Hamlin Wins The STP 400

Denny Hamlin

(WOMR file photo)

Once again it has been proven that the dominate race car does not always end up in Victory Lane.  Such was the case Sunday at the Kansas Speedway.  Martin Truex, Jr., driving the Michael Waltrip Racing #56 NAPA Toyota, led 173 laps in the STP 400, only to come home without the trophy.  The defeat must really sting after such a dominate run.  It truly looked as if Truex was going to roll back into Victory Lane, after not parking a car there in 174 races, Dover 2007.   However, it was snatched away by Denny Hamlin very late in the race.

Truex said he was “a little bit frustrated” with his second-place finish, but he also said, “I felt like today was the day I said I was back.”

He now has six top-10 finishes in eight races and five in a row.

Taking advantage of the changing weather conditions, the clouds began to part and the Sun heated up the race track, Denny Hamlin passed Martin Truex, Jr. with just 30 laps to go in the race, and bought home the checkered flag for the Joe Gibbs Racing #18 FedEx Toyota.  The win for Hamlin was his first at this 1.5 mile track, the second for this season, and his nineteenth win in his career.  Additionally, this was the 199th victory for the race cars that have had #11 on the door, breaking a tie with the #43 cars.  Richard Petty owns 192 of those 198 victories that the #43 cars have logged in NASCAR.

The two victories in the first eight races of 2012 come a year after he and his #11 FedEx Toyota won just one race, and finished a disappointing ninth in Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.  Some analysts have commented that Hamlin suffered tremendously in 2011 from his near-miss championship challenge of 2010, kind of a year-long hangover!

“It felt a lot like Phoenix,” Hamlin said, “in the sense of we kind of hung around in the top 5 all day, and at the end we just kind of make our charge, make our run, and there were some things that had to happen the last run really for us to work out, and those things happened. We got our car a little bit better and it looked like the #56 struggled a little bit more than what he had previous.”

Next weekend, Friday night for the Nationwide and Saturday night for the Sprint Cup, NASCAR rolls into the short track that thinks it is a superspeedway – Richmond International Raceway!  Like Bristol and Martinsville, drivers need to leave their egos, their feelings, and their tempers at the pit gate!  You can bet that when the last race finishes at Richmond Saturday night, there will bruise egos, hard feelings, and crumpled sheet metal lingering around the pit  garage.

So get ready for the sparks to fly at RIR, ’cause the boys will let the rough side drag!

Check out the unofficial results of the STP 400.

Here is the Sprint Cup standings after the STP 400 at the Kansas Speedway.


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