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Hamlin Wins in Kansas

April 23rd, 2012 by
Denny Hamlin became the first Toyota driver to win a Cup race in Kansas.

Denny Hamlin became the first Toyota driver to win a Cup race in Kansas. (Copyright 2012 Autostock Images)

Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry, led Team Interstate by winning Sunday’s STP 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan.

It was Hamlin’s 19th career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his first victory at Kansas. The win was his third top-five finish in nine races at the 1.5-mile oval.

Denny Hamlin, Team Interstate Batteries

Denny Hamlin leads Team Interstate with two wins on the season. (Copyright 2012 Autostock Images)

Hamlin’s Team Interstate companions – Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Toyota Camry, and Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry – finished 10th and 15th, respectively.

“We fought hard all day with our M&M’s Camry,” said Busch, who earned his third top-10 finish in eight races this season. “All we had was about a 10th-place car, and that’s where we ended up. We just kept fighting tight all day. I didn’t want to get it loose because anytime we’re loose, we just lose too much time. So we were just trying to find the balance to set the balance perfect. We tried something a little different this weekend to help us on the long runs, and I think that it kind of hurt us just a little bit. We’ll just have to regroup and debrief with Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and get it better for next time.”

After starting 25th, Busch steadily moved up the running order from the drop of the green flag. He climbed to 20th by lap 7, 18th by lap 20 and 14th by lap 56. Despite picking off several spots, Busch fought a car that was too tight in the center and exit of the corner for his liking. Crew Chief Rogers worked on Busch’s M&M’s Toyota over the course of the first three pit stops, making air pressure adjustments to loosen the car.

Those changes worked, as Busch climbed into the top-10 on lap 143 of the 267-lap race. While the handling of the car was improved and Rogers kept working to loosen the car, Busch was unable to advance much further. He moved up to as high as eighth and never dropped down to worse than 11th before finishing 10th at the end of the 400-mile race.

“It was a good, halfway strong race for Joe Gibbs Racing,” Rogers said. “We’re really excited for Denny and the 11 crew to be able to pick up their second victory of the season. Wish we had a little bit stronger car, but I thought Kyle did a good job of getting everything out of the race car that was possible.”

With round eight of 36 complete, Hamlin continues to lead Team Interstate in the championship point standings as he climbed one spot to fifth.

 Driver Standings After Race 8 of 36

RANK

+/-

DRIVER

POINTS

BEHIND

POLES

WINS

TOP 5

TOP 10

1 Greg Biffle 312 Leader 1 1 5 6
2 +2 Martin Truex Jr. 297 -15 1 0 3 6
3 -1 Matt Kenseth 295 -17 0 1 5 5
4 -1 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 291 -21 0 0 3 6
5 +1 Denny Hamlin 289 -23 1 2 3 4
6 -1 Kevin Harvick 287 -25 0 0 2 5
7 +1 Jimmie Johnson 275 -37 0 0 4 6
8 -1 Tony Stewart 265 -47 0 2 2 3
9 +2 Carl Edwards 251 -61 1 0 2 5
10 -1 Ryan Newman 249 -63 0 1 2 3
12 +1 Joey Logano 221 -91 0 0 0 2
13 +1 Kyle Busch 218 -94 0 0 1 3

 AMA Supercross

Gavin Faith made his JGRMX/Toyota/Yamaha team debut Saturday in round 15 of the Monster Energy Supercross Championship. Faith filled in for the injured James Stewart, but a late crash in heat one kept him from qualifying for the main event. Teammate Davi Millsaps transferred to the main event from heat race two and finished in fifth place, maintaining second place in series points with just two stops remaining.

Next week: NASCAR goes short-track racing under the lights at Richmond, Supercross flies into Salt Lake City, and NHRA drag racing returns to Houston.

 

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