Denny Hamlin fulfills prediction, wins Sylvania 300
Loudon, NH, United States (4E Sports) – After running out of fuel in the first race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup in Chicago, Denny Hamlin tweeted that he’ll win the next leg.
Hamlin fulfilled his prophecy by ruling the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Sunday despite starting in 32nd place after a poor qualifying run.
Hamlin beat runner-up Jimmie Johnson by 2.675 seconds for his fifth victory this season and the 22nd of his career. His victory also gave Joe Gibbs Racing its 100th Cup victory, making it the sixth team to achieve the milestone.
The victory also moved Hamlin to third in the Chase standings, seven points behind Johnson, who grabbed a one-point lead from first-leg winner Brad Keselowski.
Pole-sitter Jeff Gordon finished third to keep his championship hopes alive while
Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Keselowski and Tony Stewart ran fourth through seventh, respectively, as Chase drivers swept the top seven spots.
Explaining his guarantee, Hamlin said he used it to assure fans that he would bounce back at New Hampshire after his debacle at Chicagoland.
“It was really meant to be nothing more than just, ‘Hey, we’ll get them next week. We’ll win it next week.’ People were just taking it a little further than that, but I’m racing — doing the best I can — and that’s all I’m going to do,” Hamlin said.
Hamlin led 193 of 300 laps at the 1.058-mile track, including the last 52, with the help of his far more superior machinery.
“For me, that was the most nerve-racking part — let’s not find a way to lose — because I knew we had the fastest car [Sunday], and I’ve obviously got a great knack for this race track,” Hamlin said.
“He had a lot of speed in his car and seemed to be able to go when he needed to and wanted to,” Johnson said of Hamlin.
Hamlin grabbed a seven-second lead over Johnson when NASCAR called the third debris caution of the race on Lap 272.
After a restart on Lap 278, Hamlin sped away and easily held off Johnson, who finished second for the second consecutive race.