Denny Hamlin Overcomes Pit Road Penalties in Win at Texas Motor Speedway

FORT WORTH, TX – MARCH 31: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on March 31, 2019 in Fort Worth, Texas. Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images *** Local Caption *** Denny Hamlin

As the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series takes a week break from short track racing, and heads to Texas Motor Speedway for the O’Reilley Auto Parts 500. So far this season, it has been a hot start for two racing teams. Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing have been the teams winning all the racing so far. Both teams have won three races a piece out of the six total races heading into yesterday’s 500-mile race in Texas.

As the pole sitter, Jimmie Johnson shot out to a commanding lead. Fifteen laps into the race, Erik Jones spins around to bring out the first caution. William Byron took an early stop under caution and multiple drivers followed him down pit road. Johnson stayed out to retain his lead. With 24 laps left in the stage, green flag stops began to cycle. Joey Logano cycled back through to the lead as he had a faster stop than Johnson. Logano led to the finish of stage one and picked up the win.

Coming the restart, Martin Truex Jr. took the green flag in the lead as he did not pit under the stage break. Kyle Busch stays on his tail and passes Truex Jr. for the race lead. Busch then had to battle with Chase Elliott. Elliott completes the pass for the lead on lap 24. With 22 laps left in the stage, the caution flag waved as Kyle Larson made hard contact with the wall. This wreck would end his day early. Denny Hamlin took the race lead under the restart and led his way to a victory in the second stage.

While pitting during the stage break, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick both suffer an uncontrolled tire penalty. Joey Logano also had a penalty for having too many people over the pit wall during his stop. Ryan Blaney stayed out and sped off to lead the race. Blaney begins green flag stops with 116 laps left in the race. Daniel Suarez cycled to take the race lead, but Kyle Busch was quick to take that away from Suarez. Another caution came out involving Daniel Hemric. A restart followed with 74 laps left in the race.

Everyone besides three drivers pit under caution. Aric Almirola, Erik Jones, and Chase Elliott all stayed out. Jones beat Almirola on the restart and Kyle Busch had a big jump to closely follow Jones. Busch completes the pass quickly but was too tight coming out of the corner and Jones passes Busch once again for the race lead. Busch smacked the wall two laps later and lost multiple positions.

Denny Hamlin returned to the point as Erik Jones pitted with 29 laps left in the race. More green flag stops continued as the rest of the field had to stop for servicing one final time. Hamlin cycled back out to the lead with eleven laps left in the race. This was all he needed to seal the deal. Hamlin brought home the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 victory for his second win this season.

Denny Hamlin proved he was fast yesterday as he took an early lead to the race and even won the second stage of the race. After being penalized for an uncontrolled tire late in the race, Hamlin had to battle his way back into the contention. He really earned his win yesterday. Joe Gibbs Racing also won their fourth race of the season yesterday. Two wins with Kyle Busch and two with Denny Hamlin. There still are only two racing teams who have wins so far this season.

It has been a unique start to this season with being seven races in and only having four different race winners. In years past, there have been a good mix of drivers winning races in the early goings of the season. The series will race at Bristol and Richmond before heading to Talladega Superspeedway. This next month of racing will be exciting and gut wrenching at the same time. Two intense short track races and then a toss up race for a superspeedway. We could see some drivers shake up the standings with good performances at all these tracks.

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