Familiarity is supposed to breed contempt, but for Denny Hamlin, familiarity breeds success when it comes to Pocono Raceway.
Hamlin needed three laps of overtime but held on to capture his fifth career win at the Tricky Triangle in Sunday’s Gander RV 400. It was a 1-2-3 finish for Joe Gibbs Racing, as Hamlin took the checkered flag followed by teammates Erik Jones and Martin Truex Jr.
The Virginia native becomes the eighth different winner in the last eight Cup races.
“I was really worried (about low fuel),” Hamlin told NBCSN. “Once we lost the track position to (Truex) an (Jones), I thought it’s over. We weren’t able to pass them.”
But Hamlin did pass them and never looked back.
“I was in fuel-save mode and still trying to get around those guys,” Hamlin said. “Once I got around them, then I really went into conservation mode instead of stretching the lead out there.”
Hamlin was so excited that after his interview on the frontstretch with NBCSN, he yelled out “five” and held his five fingers up, prompting cheers from the crowd. His five wins at Pocono now equal his other most successful track (five wins at Martinsville)
“Man, we’re on a roll,” Hamlin said. “We’re running our best right now, there’s no doubt about it. We’ll just keep plugging along and doing the best we can.”
Hamlin took the lead from Jones, who was also was low on fuel 17 laps from the scheduled end. Hamlin then held on during two late restarts and sailed to his fifth win and 11th top-five finish in 28 career starts at the 2.5-mile track.
William Byron finished fourth followed by Kyle Larson. Both started at the rear after Byron’s car failed inspection and Larson went to a backup this weekend. Kevin Harvick, Daniel Hemric, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney completed the top 10.
Stage 1 winner: Kyle Busch (8th stage win of season)
Stage 2 winner: Jimmie Johnson under caution (second career stage win)
Who had a good race: Kyle Larson bounced back from a Saturday wreck in practice and challenged momentarily in the final three laps before finishing fifth. … William Byron also rallied late for a strong fourth-place finish. … Daniel Hemric finished seventh, the second-best finish of his Cup career.
Who had a bad race: Chase Elliott suffered a hard wreck exiting Turn 3 during Stage 2 when a tire blew out on him. Elliott was driving a backup car after wrecking during practice Saturday morning. Elliott finished last in the 38-car field, marking his fifth finish in the last seven races outside the top 20. “It just popped,” Elliott told NBCSN. “It’s been really rough over a month. Just a rough patch. Hopefully, we can get past it. The good news is we’re still in the summer months so the stuff that really matters is still ahead. … We just move on.”
Notable: This is the second 1-2-3 finish for Joe Gibbs Racing this season. The other was in the season-opening Daytona 500, which Hamlin won, followed by Kyle Busch and Erik Jones.