It was a long wait for a win but a familiar Victory Lane for Denny Hamlin.
Hamlin held off a wild charge from Brad Keselowski to win Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway, for Hamlin’s first Sprint Cup Series victory of the season and the first for Toyota Racing.
The win is Hamlin’s fifth at the speedway and the first since his victory last spring at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
Joey Logano finished third, Matt Kenseth was fourth and David Ragan was fifth.
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With the win, Hamlin is all-but assured a spot in this season’s championship Chase.
Hamlin restarted fifth on the restart on Lap 467 of 500 and quickly moved into the lead with new tires on Lap 474. Equally as impressive was Hamlin’s work holding off Keselowski in the final laps.
Three who mattered
Denny Hamlin: A win is just what Joe Gibbs Racing ordered.
Brad Keselowski: A win last week and second this week. Keselowski certainly looks in championship form.
Danica Patrick: Patrick was close to matching her career high (sixth) but ended up for a solid seventh, her first top-10 of the season.
▪ Joe Gibbs Racing’s performance was a well-timed shot in the arm as the organization deals with the serious illness of team president J.D. Gibbs. JGR cars ad shown flashes of potential in recent weeks but had not been able to put the race finishes together. On Sunday, Hamlion won the race, and his teammates finished fourth, fifth and 17th.
▪ Chase Elliott’s Cup series debut did not go anywhere near as well as he hoped. Elliott got into a couple on-track incidents early in the race and was forced to the garage for extensive repairs. Halfway through the race, Elliott was already more than 60 laps down. He finished 38th.
Three tweets from Sunday’s race:
Duck Commander 500
Where: Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, Texas
When: 7:30 p.m. April
Radio: Performance Racing Network.